WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Windsor Regional Field Hospital at the main campus of St. Clair College has been operational for a few days and already and 28 patients have been admitted to the new COVID-19 specific facility.

Patients who previously lived at Heron Terrace Long-Term Care home in Windsor, but tested positive for the coronavirus have been moved into the temporary facility to help lighten the load at long-term care homes, a segment of the population hardest hit by COVID-19.

The field hospital at the Sportsplex has a current capacity of 100 patients, with the ability to expand the facility to handle as many as 300 beds, according to hospital officials.

As of Monday morning, seven long-term care and retirement homes in Windsor-Essex are experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19, including AMICA, Sun Parlour, Lifetimes on Riverside, Franklin Gardens, Extendicare Southwood Lakes, Heron Terrace and Country Village Homes.

The oldest patient at the new field hospital is 99 years old. Some patients already admitted have significant co-morbidities.

“They’re patients with multiple medical problems and need a lot of care and have now contracted the COVID-19 virus and are definitely at risk of not surviving this, sadly,” says Margurerite Chevalier, who is the chief of Family Practice at WRH, and current head physician at the field hospital.

“We’re in a different facility that’s usually a gymnasium that’s been converted into a hospital. But I think, generally speaking, it’s going well,” she says.

Windsor Regional Hospital has committed seven nurses for each 25 people admitted to the field hospital, along with a full complement of support staff, a pharmacy, housekeeping, a full time Chaplin, allied rehabilitation assistants, lab services, and a full-time dietary staff, according to Karen Riddell, the vice president of critical care at WRH.

“From a clinical perspective, we’re able to deliver the same level of care that we’ve been delivering at an acute care unit that we’ve been delivering at Met and Ouelette (campuses),” Riddell says.

She adds it’s about more than healthcare. After just three days, staff members are trying to make the environment feel less like a field hospital, and more like the facilities the patients have grown used to.

“We’re getting pictures put up, we’re adding photographs for the patients in their rooms and window murals and things like that so we’re really getting into the aesthetics now,” Riddell says.

Many of the staff members are coming together from different area hospitals, some working together for the first time.

“We’re just happy to do our job,” says Ljube Graobac, a nurse practitioner with Windsor Regional Hospital. He’s part of the outreach team that works specifically with long-term care homes supporting acutely ill residents being transferred from long-term care homes to the field hospital.

He’s familiar with the dynamics of the hospitals and long-term care facilities and says he’s happy to work in collaboration with fellow staff as a team.

“Everyone is really upbeat, positive, everyone is all hands on deck,” Graobac says. “It’s been a great experience and if any of the families are watching, we assure that we will do everything we can to assure the best care we can provide for their loved ones, absolutely.