RVH opens new 70-bed field hospital in preparation for increased demand on healthcare

Officials at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre cut the ribbon on a new field hospital on Friday, designed to ease pressure on the hospital itself.

The all-season unit, called the Regional Pandemic Response Unit (PRU), was constructed in one of the Barrie health centre’s parking lots and will care for those who are on the mend and nearing their discharge date. Those battling COVID-19 will be cared for in the hospital proper, within a dedicated unit.

While the PRU was built with COVID-19 in mind, RVH CEO Janice Skot says it could serve a purpose beyond the pandemic. “Even after that, 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,” she told Barrie 360 on Friday.

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Construction on the 8,250 square-foot modular structure began in the early days of the pandemic, with equipment moved into place in mid-April. The PRU was made possible through an over $12 million commitment from the provincial government. “The investment for the new Pandemic Response Unit at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre will help to increase hospital capacity and reduce wait times for patients and families in Simcoe Muskoka and beyond,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott.

The PRU is only one of three such field hospitals in all of Ontario. It is outfitted with modular walls and can withstand high winds and heavy snow.