Ottawa prepares mobile health units to overcome overflows

The federal government is preparing to test mobile hospitals in Ontario in order to be able to alleviate possible overflows in provincial health systems due to COVID-19.

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Ottawa has planned to build up to 10 respiratory care units in April, awarding two urgent, non-competitive contracts worth up to $ 300 million.

About seven months later, no province or territory has requested to receive any of these mobile hospitals designed by the SNC-Lavalin PAE joint venture and British Columbia firm Weatherhaven Global Resources.

However, daily COVID-19 reports are worsening across the country and projections unveiled by Ontario this week signal that hospitals in the province could soon be overcrowded.

“In the coming weeks, we will be testing one of these units in Ontario to make sure the structure is working as expected. By working with a team of health professionals, we will test various hypothetical scenarios to ensure that everything is ready for any possible deployment, in any province and territory, ”a spokeswoman for the federal Department of Supply said on Friday. , Michèle Larose.

The simulations, lasting a week, will not involve real patients, she said without specifying where exactly in Ontario they will take place. The exercise will be conducted in conjunction with the Ontario Emergency Medical Services team and the Canadian Armed Forces, among others.

While none of the 10 mHealth units has had to be delivered to date, the federal government has ordered the construction of two of them in the event of an urgent need.

Already, Ottawa has paid over $ 61 million to SNC-Lavalin PAE and Weatherhaven Global Resources, which also covers the necessary equipment inside the units. The massive amount of $ 300 million provided for in the two contracts will not necessarily be paid in full, since the federal government will only pay for the tasks performed.

On the Quebec side, we doubt we need the mobile health units ordered by Ottawa, even if we do not rule out the possibility.

The press secretary of the Minister of Health Christian Dubé, Marjaurie Côté-Boileau, notes that modular facilities have already been planned for several hospitals such as Maisonneuve-Rosemont, St-Mary, Verdun and Sacré-Cœur.

“The modulars purchased by the establishments are, in the vast majority of cases, Quebec products and thus make it possible to encourage our entrepreneurs here,” she said.

For its part, SNC-Lavalin affirms that the installations designed by its subsidiary will be able to operate without problem even if they are deployed in the height of winter, “in the harshest climates found in the communities. Nordic ”.

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