Inside the Vancouver Convention Centre, 271 beds with nursing stations, showers and a supply of oxygen tanks have been set up as part of the province’s ongoing pandemic plan to prepare for a possible surge in COVID-19 cases.
While B.C. has seen promising stats in the number of patients who have recovered from the novel coronavirus, which has no cure or vaccine, health officials have remained cautiously optimistic that current physical distancing protocols will flatten the COVID-19 curve.
Still, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the alternate care site serves as a precautionary step.
“This is a critical step to ensure that B.C. is prepared for the worst as we work for the best outcome,” he said in a statement while thanking the number of organizations that helped put the site toegther in recent weeks such as the Canadian Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance.
The beds add to the roughly 4,400 empty hospital beds available in the province, according to B.C. government data released on April 10.
Within the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which has seen the most confirmed cases thus far, there are four hospitals: Lions Gate Hospital, Richmond Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital.
If needed, the Vancouver Convention Centre would help increase bed capacity for lower acuity, non-COVID-19 patients.
Inside the make-shift hospital, beds have been set-up in a pod format with approximately 25 patients to a dedicated health care team. There are four nursing stations, patient and staff showers and washrooms, oxygen and medical supplies.
If the site were to be needed, a Vancouver Coastal Health medical director and operations lead would be at the site to oversee transfers, provide medical oversight and support an interdisciplinary team of health care providers including, doctors, nurses, care aides and other clinical and non-clinical care providers.
B.C. health officials have decided not to use modelling to predict possible COVID-19 death tolls like how other provinces, as well as the federal government, has done.
Instead, B.C. has focused modelling on whether the province has enough hospital beds and other resources if a widespread outbreak were to occur. According to officials, social distancing measures are helping decrease the rate of transmission, but warn that hospitals could still become overwhelmed if there were to be a surge in cases.
COVID-19 hospitalizations in B.C. peaked to 149 on April 2, but have since remained steady and have begun to slightly decline. There have been roughly 1,500 confirmed cases in B.C. and 58 fatalities as of April 11.