Two mobile hospital units will be deployed to the Greater Toronto Area, Trudeau says
TORONTO -- The federal government will deploy two mobile hospital units to the Greater Toronto Area in order to help free up space in a healthcare system that is struggling to handle an influx of COVID-19 patients.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement during a news conference in Ottawa on Friday morning.
He said that the mobile hospital units will provide up to 200 additional beds, effectively freeing up space in some of the region’s hardest hit hospitals “for those who need ICU care.”
He also said that each of the units will be able to provide “vital medical equipment and supplies.”
“The increase in cases this month has put a real strain on hospitals and for Ontario in particular the situation is extremely serious,” he said. “When we spoke last week I told Premier Ford that we would be there to support Ontario with any assistance they need. Keeping you and your families safe is our top priority.”
A Critical Care Services Ontario report obtained by CP24 earlier this week revealed that there were more than 400 COVID-19 patients in critical care in Ontario hospitals as of Monday. But at some hospitals in the GTA the numbers were even more stark.
For example, at Humber River Hospital in Toronto’s west end there were 25 COVID-19 patients in the ICU and all 46 beds in the unit were filled as of Monday. Meanwhile, at Birchmount Hospital in Scarborough all 15 ICU beds were filled and all but four of them were taken up by COVID-19 patients.
The federal government first established contracts with Weatherhaven Global Resources Ltd. and SNC-Lavalin PAE Inc. to manufacture mobile hospital units during the first wave of pandemic in April but they have not been deployed until new.
In a news release issued following the announcement, the Trudeau government said that the units will be deployed to the GTA “as rapidly as possible” and will remain in the region until May 1.
The release says that the units will “facilitate the transfer of non-critical care patients out of critical care to ensure those specialized resources are available for those who need it most.”
Their deployment is just the latest effort to provide additional capacity to respond to the increasing hospitalization numbers.
Earlier this week, the Ford government also announced that it would invest $125 million in creating 500 new “surge” beds in Toronto, Durham Region, Windsor, Ottawa, and Kingston. Thirty-five of those critical care beds are set to open at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital when it officially opens on Feb. 7, though it is unclear when the remaining beds will come online.
“Our government is using every tool at our disposal to support our hospitals as they respond to COVID-19,” Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said in the release. “As Ontario continues to add more hospital beds and build capacity in our health care system, these new mobile health units will further help us alleviate the strain on our hospitals and intensive care units. We will continue to work with the federal government and our health care partners to support our hospitals and care for patients affected by this deadly virus.”