RIM Park to become backup field hospital if local capacity exceeded

Fergus, Mount Forest, Palmerston hospitals part of group that could use Waterloo facility during pandemic

WATERLOO – Waterloo and Guelph-Wellington hospitals have secured the use of RIM Park here as part of their COVID-19 pandemic planning.

The regional strategy is being implemented by Cambridge Memorial, St. Mary’s General, Guelph General, St. Joseph’s Health Centre Guelph and Grand River hospitals, as well as the Wellington Health Care Alliance, which includes hospitals in Fergus, Mount Forest and Palmerston.

The hospitals entered into an agreement with the City of Waterloo to build extra capacity if the number of COVID-19 patients exceeds hospital capacity.

Hospitals and health system partners have been preparing for a potential surge of individuals requiring hospitalization and critical care over the coming weeks and months. Part of this preparation has been to find innovative ways to create additional care areas within hospitals.

At the same time, they have been planning for even greater capacity in other areas of the communities.These non-traditional community spaces include area hotels, university residences and large event spaces.

“Reaching this important point in our planning has taken the collective energy and innovation of all hospitals, staff and physicians working alongside savvy community members,” said Ron Gagnon, Grand River Hospital’s CEO.

RIM Park Manulife Sportsplex and Heathy Living Centre has the potential to play a key role as a field hospital accommodating hundreds of additional beds and equipment for patients, should they be required.

All of the hospitals in the broader region would work together to equip, staff and operate the facility for Waterloo and Guelph-Wellington patients.

“While we remain hopeful that we will never need to expand our care through the use of a field hospital, we are pleased to have reached this milestone,” said Marianne Walker, President and CEO of Guelph General Hospital.

While recent public health data shows the region is trending toward flattening the curve and slowing the number of COVID-19 cases, the hospitals will be prepared to implement and operate these additional spaces if needed.

“We’d be proud to see our facility provide part of the solution should it be necessary,” said Dave Jaworsky, Mayor of the City of Waterloo.  “An even better solution would be to see our community members continue to protect one another from the disease, continue to practice physical distancing and help to lessen the impact this illness is having on our hospitals.”