TORONTO -- The Greater Toronto Area's health-care system began a new chapter in its fight against COVID-19 Monday as a field hospital built in the parking lot of Sunnybrook Hospital accepted its first patient.

"The MHU or mobile health unit is now clinically active, it's now operational, we have our first patient," says Robert Burgess, Senior director of emergency preparedness at Sunnybrook. 

Debra Carew, who works in clinical operations at Sunnybrook said, "It's sad that we're at the point obviously where we have to bring in all these resources." 

In a system that is stretched to the max, beds inside this unit will take COVID-19 patients from across the GTA - but none will be patients in need of an ICU. 

Carew says, "We are going to be accepting patients that are COVID recovering, and COVID recovered."

Recovering patients must be stable before being transferred to the makeshift facility and the average stay is an estimated three to five days. Planning for the hospital began in late February with construction starting soon after. 

This follows a similar hospital built in the parking lot of Burlington's Joseph Brant hospital, which is currently being used as a vaccination clinic. 

As it stands, the mobile health unit at Sunnybrook has 10 beds ready to go. They will have 20 beds shortly, but can ramp up to 84 beds of necessary. 

Carew says, "What we're hoping to do is to take some more patients from the acute care centres to be able to allow them to have more space for the more ill COVID patients that are coming in." 

With ICU admissions coming close to 900 provincewide, the system needs all the capacity it can get. 


                                                                                                          (Source: Sunnybrook Hospital)