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RVH planning to increase critical-care capacity to prepare for outbreak

Barrie hospital has 15 intensive care unit beds, but that could soon double; RVH also has 36 ventilators, with more on the way
2020-02-07 RVH RB 2
Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre is located on Georgian Drive in Barrie's north end. Raymond Bowe/BarrieToday

It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when.

Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) officials are working hard to create more capacity for intensive care unit (ICU) beds in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

While a hospital official said on Friday that COVID-19 was currently not impacting the hospital’s critical-care capacity, that could change at any time and the hospital wants to be prepared.

“We’re planning for the worst, but hoping for the best,” Janice Skot, RVH president and chief administative officer, said during an interview with BarrieToday. “Our critical-care capacity could be challenged and that’s why we’re working toward doubling it in a very short while.”

RVH now operates with 15 ICU beds.

“We have a plan in place where we’re working toward doubling the number of intensive care unit beds that we can have open over the next little while,” said Skot.

Skot said the hospital is in the midst of converting two rooms in the hospital to accommodate 23 more beds, with a plan for down the road to convert another room for seven more.

Work is also underway to make sure the hospital has the appropriate human resources, such as nurses, to accommodate the extra patient load.

“Potentially, we’d then be up to 30 more (beds). Some will happen now and some will happen next week. It’s a process,” she said.

In the building, Skot says the hospital has 36 ventilators, including some that are portable.

“We have also purchased more that are coming,” she said.

Skot says RVH has one of the highest alternate level of care (ALC) patient rates in the province, and last summer the hospital proposed working with IOOF Seniors Home in Barrie to transition ALC patients to their facility as a temporary, transitional solution.

An ALC patient, according to the province, is someone who is occupying an acute-care hospital bed but is not acutely ill or does not require the intensity of resources or services provided in a hospital setting. Typically, it's a patient who is waiting to be moved into a long-term care facility.

“We’ve been trying to safely relocate (ALC) patients there for some time, and in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, we are able to work with the IOOF to safely transfer 27 patients there either next week or the week after,” said Skot.

“That’s going to have a very positive impact,” she said. “It will increase capacity (here) for what we’re all planning for, which would be a more severe outbreak with more people sick with COVID-19 needing admissions.”

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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings 12 years of experience to her role as regional reporter for Village Media, primarily covering Collingwood, County of Simcoe and education.
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