The vision of field hospitals first announced earlier this spring is coming to fruition, thanks to two closely-connected teams in Regina and Saskatoon.
The field hospitals, which will be located at EVRAZ Place in Regina and Merlis Belsher Place in Saskatoon, are part of Saskatchewan Health Authority's surge plan to prepare for an increase in COVID-19 patients. Both hospitals need to be ready to open within a few short weeks of hitting pre-determined trigger points. Between them, the two hospitals will have room for 304 COVID-19 positive patients who require hospitalization but do not have a severe form of the illness.
As the Saskatchewan Health Authority resumes health services initially suspended due to the pandemic, the two field hospitals will ensure the additional capacity is there in the event of a later surge in COVID-19 cases; something that many health experts are concerned could happen with a second wave in the fall.
"If all goes well, we'll never need these field hospitals," said Kerri Cryderman, who is leading their development for the SHA. “That being said, what we've seen in other places is that situations can change very quickly, and it's important to have this plan in place if we ever get to the point where we need those extra beds."
Construction-wise, the goal is to complete any required adjustments to the facilities to support planned clinical operations, while at the same time minimizing impact to existing facilities and equipment.
In many respects, the work of planning for field hospitals is similar to any other facility build, with aspects of construction, bed mapping, patient and equipment flow, staffing and safety plans, equipment and IT needs. In other ways, these spaces will operate differently.
“We've had to really challenge ourselves to think about how we can continue to provide safe care in an environment that is very different from our usual hospital setting," said Kateri Singer, one of three Regina field hospital leads. For example, the field hospitals will have large open areas to ensure care providers can easily see patients and, rather than a typical hospital bed, patients will mostly use cots.
Teams in both Regina and Saskatoon have been working closely to reduce duplication and increase consistency where possible. A recent bed mapping exercise, which looked at bed numbers and distribution, patient flow, staffing and supplies, is a good example of work that can be adapted and applied at the Saskatoon site.
Once the need for these hospitals is over, equipment and supplies that were ordered for these facilities will be distributed to other Saskatchewan hospitals for their use.
Merlis Belsher Place undergoes construction to prepare for potential field hospital site.