Mills Memorial Hospital has been named as a primary COVID-19 treatment centre to deliver care to the most critically ill patients, one of 19 hospitals in B.C. so designated.
It, and the hospital in Fort St. John, were added to the primary treatment centre list March 30. Up until then, the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia was the only hospital in the north on the provincial list.
Aside from its general ward, Mills also has a four-bed intensive care unit equipped with ventilators and those ventilators are among 116 available within Northern Health as of mid-March.
As of Monday, March 30, provincial health minister Adrian Dix said there were more than 4,200 empty beds available in B.C.’s hospitals.
The intent is for hospitals to treat critically-ill COVID-19 patients while off-site facilities are to be placed in readiness for non-COVID-19 patients, he said.
The provincial government last week released a model of how treatment would be provided based on how COVID-19 spread and was reported and treated in Hubei, China, where the virus first took hold, and then in northern Italy, a region particularly-hard hit.
It assumed a phased in approach starting with intensive care units followed by planning for the “ability to add more bed capacity off-site from hospitals for less acute medical and surgical patients to open up additional capacity for COVID-19 patients in hospitals with ready access to critical care,” one page of the modelling indicated.
Within Northern Health, planners identified 27 possible critical care beds that are ventilator capable and further 57 critical care beds termed “vent capable”. In addition to beds for critical care, planners said Northern Health has 412 beds, excluding maternity, pediatrics, mental health, rehab and palliative care.
Planners, prior to adding Mills Memorial and the hospital in Fort St. John to the primary care list, indicated that, based on the Hubei experience, “using ICU and high acuity bed capacity along with vent capacity, looks reasonable focused on using the 17 primary COVID-19 care sites.”
“If B.C. was to move to a Northern Italy trajectory, B.C. would have to use all sites to meet bed demand and implement increased transportation of patients between sites,” planners added.