WINDSOR, ONT. -- Windsor Regional Hospital officials say they are set to open its field hospital at St. Clair College for COVID-19 patients on Saturday.

Hospital officials say the initial placement will be of residents who have tested positive for the COVID virus at local long-term care and retirement homes.

“This decision allows us to remove these LTC residents away from the outbreak to the Sportsplex facility where they can receive safe medical care by WRH staff, while at the same time protecting those that remain in the facility, including staff at the home,” said WRH president and CEO David Musyj.

The health unit says there are seven outbreaks at LTC homes in Windsor-Essex.

The goal is to provide a specialized setting where those residents being transferred from LTC and retirement homes can be provided with the best possible care.

This will in turn reduce the pressures being experience by local homes that have been impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks, and allow them to focus on the well-being of their other residents.

WRH officials say the first cohort of patients for the Sportsplex will come from Heron Terrace in east Windsor, involving residents there who tested positive for COVID-19.Field hospital

Essex-Windsor EMS, who tested the residents, will also arrange to safely transport them to the St. Clair College Sportsplex.

“This plan will allow us to continue to provide our residents with the care that they need and deserve, and assist in our battle to stem the spread of COVID-19,” said Amy Sworik, administrator at Heron Terrace. “I cannot be more proud of our staff at Heron Terrace. Together with the Windsor Regional Hospital team we will be better able to protect both our residents and staff.”Heron Terrace

WRH reached an agreement with St. Clair College to use the College’s SportsPlex, as announced on April 2. It is a stand-alone athletic facility on the main campus.

In just over two weeks, they have transformed the Sportsplex into a 100-bed hospital facility.

“I have been involved in the preparation and operation of many field hospitals,” said Dr. Paul Bradford, Trauma Lead and Emergency Department physician at WRH. “I can inform you what the team has assembled here is more than that. It is in impressive clinical facility that along with our clinical and non-clinical teams will provide exceptional care for our most vulnerable population.”

WRH officials say they will ramp up use of the Sportsplex facility by starting with Heron Terrace and then moving to other LTC homes where a COVID-19 outbreak has been identified.

The Sportsplex will be staffed by WRH employees and professional staff the same way we would staff a typical WRH in-patient unit. The Sportsplex will be able to care for 100 patients.

Similar to a long term care facility visitors will not be permitted. However, we will be using iPad or Android devices to help residents stay in touch with their loved ones.