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Hospital confirms it's looking at alternative locations to manage COVID-19 surges

Many hospital clinics and outpatient services have already begun their transition to offsite locations
20180607-SAH ICU-DT-02
A Sault Area Hospital intensive care unit (ICU) room in 2018. Darren Taylor/SooToday

Sault Area Hospital confirmed Saturday that it's looking for "alternate locations to house our hospital and services" in the event of a surge of local COVID-19 cases.

"We have been actively working with the city and other community partners to identify specific sites to best serve and optimally manage the COVID-19 pandemic for our community," said Brandy Sharp Young, the hospital's manager of communications, in a written statement describing sweeping steps being taken to manage the coronavirus emergency.

Sharp Young said the following actions are now being implemented:

  • working to move patients out of the emergency department to other areas efficiently so the focus can be on new patients
  • dividing the hospital into sections with a clear separation between areas and a staged plan that will allow it to expand if needed to better manage various types of patients
  • expanding on plans already in place for alternate locations to house the hospital and its services in an emergency situation
  • as part of surge planning, many hospital clinics and outpatient services have already begun their transition to offsite locations
  • the public will begin to see activity at the south end of the hospital near the emergency department. This work is part of planning to manage patients coming to SAH for care
  • planning among areas of the hospital such as emergency department, intensive care unit and the medical floors to coordinate efforts
  • working to have adequate levels of personal protective equipment available to ensure staff, physicians, and patients have the critical supplies that will be required over the coming weeks

As SooToday reported on Wednesday, the need for COVID-19 surge planning was discussed this past week at a confidential meeting of Sault Ste. Marie's emergency planning committee.

Ward 5 Coun. Corey Gardi, a member of the committee, wants the city to help establish temporary offsite hospital space to ensure capacity to handle any surge in COVID-19 cases.

"Our team has been working tirelessly to develop an extensive plan for COVID-19 in our hospital, monitoring, researching and implementing best practices from hard-hit areas around the globe," Sharp Young said.

"Elements of our pandemic plan have been put in place to include additional education and simulations, working with partners, screening, monitoring key supplies, reconfiguring space, and enhancing protocol  all with a focus of protecting our patients and our people during such unprecedented times."

Sharp Young said that Sault Area Hospital will be briefing the media over the next couple of days on its COVID-19 planning.