Barrie pandemic response unit well-utilized since November opening

Over one hundred patients have passed through Barrie's field hospital since it opened

Over a hundred people have passed through the regional pandemic response unit (PRU) built at Barrie’s Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) since it opened in November.

“Our patients in the PRU are medically stable and usually discharged home within three to five days,” says Charmaine Smith, Interim Manager of the Regional Pandemic Response Unit. “Since opening, we have safely discharged 105 patients from the PRU.” The facility does not treat patients diagnosed with COVID-19, rather those who are on the mend. “RVH has well-defined admission criteria and any COVID patients are in an entirely separate area within the hospital/Main building,” added Smith.

The PRU was first constructed in April and officially opened on November 27 and began accepting patients immediately following that. The facility was constructed in the hospital parking lot but despite its tent-like appearance, it can withstand a Barrie winter. “The PRU was constructed to be suitable for any kind of weather, particularly cold weather and snow loads,” commented Smith. “It is fully insulated and equipped with heating and cooling units and is connected to the main hospital by a covered, and insulated tunnel.”

It is one of only three such sites in the province and allows RVH to assist overloaded zones like Toronto. “Hospitals around the province are facing critical capacity challenges and as we built the PRU, creating additional capacity in our own facility, RVH is in a position to assist them,” Dana Naylor, Chief of Patient Flow told Barrie 360 via email. “Since mid-December, 54 patients from hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area have been transferred to RVH for their care.”

Post-pandemic, it is expected the PRU will find further use to help manage patient overflow. “RVH is facing a capacity challenge based on population growth and a shift in demographics, so I could see this pandemic response unit could be used for other purposes as the year moves on,” RVH CEO Janice Skot previously told Barrie 360.