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Southlake’s field hospitals transformed into COVID-19 assessment centres

May 7, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Southlake Regional Health Centre moved COVID-19 testing into on-site field hospitals on Thursday, April 30.

These field hospitals, made possible by two generous community donors through the Southlake Regional Health Centre Foundation, can house up to 30 patients and are fully equipped with heating, air conditioning and power.

Shifting the assessment centres to the field tents has helped free up Southlake’s paramedic and ambulance garage which has, since the opening of a local assessment centre, been a hub for testing. It will also help Southlake’s Emergency Department get back up to speed for non-COVID patients.

“One of the things we looked at back in early February was the potential of needing additional space and having that additional surge capacity and, in particular with infectious disease, do we have enough negative pressure environments where we can control the air and the environment?” says Stephen Trafford, Manager of Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, for Southlake. “These shelters were purchased not only for the fact it comes with negative pressure air and a number of other features, but it is really multifunctional and multipurpose.

“For now, we’re using one [of the two tents] as an assessment centre. We knew we needed to come up with something a little more long-term. Since we don’t know how long this is going to go on for, we decided to move the assessment centre right to the shelters. Having said that, they are multifunctional. If we decide a week or a month from now that we need them for something else, whether it is to have patients out there on stretchers or whether we use it for some other capacity, we have that option now to be able to use it and based on the operational need.”

The tents look simple from the outside, but, as they are designed for a healthcare environment, they are far more complex than they appear. They are designed to be able to allow procedures to be performed and come equipped with everything to make that happen.

“Regardless of what we’re doing today, tomorrow we might be doing some other medical procedure,” says Trafford. “Having all of the amenities or as close as possible out in that shelter is really kind of what makes this thing work. It is really no different than some other industries like the military. I am a reservist and we operate in these types of facilities in remote areas and even though it is not a remote environment, we are only 50m away from the building and traditionally there can be no infrastructure [in military situations] that can help support something like this.

“We’re going to be looking to see if it changes our rate or speed of testing. Certainly, with the drive-thru there are only so many cars that can get in the queue outside the emergency department. We’re hoping that with this set up, people will get out of their vehicles and into the shelter. We have six pods set up right now. At any given point, we can have six people being tested and we believe that that will actually probably speed up the process for us a little bit.

“We want to reassure the community that Southlake continues to be a safe environment. We want people if they need our services to come and be confident that they will be safe in our environments and their medical conditions will be addressed. That goes for both the shelters and the actual hospital itself. You should feel comfortable and confident that if you need testing, you can come in, our staff will treat you, keep you safe, and whatever services are required you will get.”

By Brock Weir



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