David Purdie, from St. Clair College, loads up hospital beds from the Anthony P. Toldo Centre for Applied Health Sciences, to be delivered to Hotel Dieu-Grace Healthcare, Tuesday, March 24, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
With classrooms and labs shut down as part of the community fight against the spread of COVID-19, St. Clair College has begun stripping its state-of-the-art health sciences facilities in order to bolster efforts underway at local hospitals.
“This is our community — it’s all hands on deck,” college president Patti France said Tuesday.
Critical medical supplies — everything from hospital beds and ventilators to monitors, masks, gowns and gloves — are being packed up and shipped out to Windsor Regional Hospital and Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare. The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance is also receiving supplies from the local college.
“Our health-care workers, they’re the real heroes now, and whatever we can do to help, we will,” said France.
The first 35 hospital beds to go (St. Clair has 90 in total) were headed to Hotel-Dieu on Tuesday, while eight ventilators were sent to Windsor Regional Hospital on Monday and Tuesday.
The fully functional specialized medical equipment and materials being shipped out are used in the training of students in college facilities like the Toldo Centre for Applied Health Sciences that are designed to replicate what France calls “a hospital-in-miniature.”
Pete Panzica, left, and David Purdie, from St. Clair College, load up hospital beds from the Anthony P. Toldo Centre for Applied Health Sciences, to be delivered to Hotel Dieu-Grace Healthcare, Tuesday, March 24, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The beds are worth about $3,500 each, while the ventilators cost about $70,000 each and are the “higher-end” type, designed for complex cases to assist acute-care patients to breathe or to even do the breathing for them, said Dr. Ken Blanchette, St. Clair College’s associate vice-president, academic.
Most of what’s being sent out is being held in reserve by the hospitals as the number of coronavirus cases keeps climbing, particularly over the border in Michigan, where the governor has ordered a near-total lockdown to help stem a rapidly rising tide of COVID-19 infections.
“It’s difficult to ignore what’s happening across the river — there’s no excuse not to be prepared here,” said Bill Marra, vice-president of external affairs at Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare.
The hospital beds from St. Clair College will be put to immediate use. Marra said 10 acute-care patients a day are currently being transferred from Windsor Regional Hospital’s two local campuses and Leamington’s Erie Shores HealthCare to Hotel-Dieu’s Prince Road location in west Windsor.
“We’re adding 40 (acute-care) beds, and we have the ability to go higher,” said Marra. Windsor Regional Hospital, which has already cancelled all elective surgeries, is freeing up its own acute-care spaces in anticipation of any spike in local COVID-19 cases.
“I commend them whole-heartedly — it’s very prudent of the hospitals to pull in that stuff now,” Blanchette said of those preparations. “When you need a ventilator, when you need a bed, you need it immediately.”
A hospital bed from the Anthony P. Toldo Centre for Applied Health Sciences, one of 35 beds in total to to be delivered to Hotel Dieu-Grace Healthcare, Tuesday, March 24, 2020, is pictured as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Blanchette said local health officials are probably learning from the horror scenes on the news from such coronavirus global hotspots as Italy, where patients have been shown lying head-to-toe on blankets on the hallway floors of hospitals, or a convoy of military trucks was shown moving loaded coffins out of one town.
Marra said the local situation is being gauged daily, but his hospital is grateful for the college’s reaching out: “It’s a good news story.”
France said local hospital leaders had been in touch with her but that staff at both hospitals had been in direct communication with health services faculty at her college. Last Friday, hospital administrators were given a tour of the college’s health sciences offerings and invited to list their needs.
“It’s been difficult for me, but I can’t imagine how much more difficult it is for our health-care workers,” said France.