Ottawa Hospital planning new patient unit in General Campus ambulance offload bay

The Ottawa Hospital will build a 10 to 20-bed overflow unit in the former ambulance bay at the General Campus this winter to help deal with patient overcrowding and improve ambulance off-load times.

Planning for the new patient space comes two years after Ottawa’s largest hospital opened a 40-bed temporary unit in the parking lot next to the emergency department at the Civic Campus to help deal with overcrowding during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the Ottawa Hospital experiencing higher-than-usual patient volumes this winter, it has determined it needs to expand capacity at the General Campus on Smyth Road.

“The Ottawa Hospital is working with Ontario Health and the Ministry of Health to build a 10 to 20-bed unit in the former ambulance bay, attached to the Emergency Department at the General Campus,” the Ottawa Hospital said in a statement to CTV News Ottawa.

“This will help create further surge capacity and improve ambulance offload time and patient flow.”

Statistics from Health Quality Ontario showed patients waited 3.2 hours at the Ottawa Hospital General Campus emergency department for a first assessment by a doctor in November, longer than the provincial target of 2 hours. Patients waited an average of 2.1 hours at the Civic Campus ER to be seen by a doctor.

The “Offload Medicine Transition Unit” at the Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus includes bays for paramedics to transfer patients to hospital staff, and medicine transition beds for admitted patients to move from the emergency department to an inpatient unit.

All Ottawa hospitals have reported higher-than-normal patient volumes this winter, as the city sees a surge in COVID-19, RSV and influenza patients.  The Queensway-Carleton Hospital is running additional beds in a renovated retirement home and set up the “equivalent of an entire inpatient unit” in the emergency department this month.

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