Tents loaned to the hospital by the Kitimat Fire Department are pictured outside Kitimat General Hospital. The tents are part of the hospital’s plan of considering how to increase capacity and staff safety during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are also intended for consideration of creative options for patient/public reception should the need arise. Northern Health has said no public care will be conducted in tents and the potential use being considered is patient or public reception. (Louisa Genzale photo)

Northern Health says tents outside Kitimat General part of increased capacity response to COVID-19

The tents will be trialled over several weeks to prepare for extended use

If you live in the Kitimat area you might have seen a number of tents that were recently erected outside of Kitimat General Hospital (KGH).

A photo obtained by the Kitimat Northern Sentinel shows at least two structures — a smaller, roof-only style tent with four poles and a larger, khaki green heavy duty tent — outside of the building.

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With many speculating about the reason for these tents on social media, we reached out to Northern Health who told us the tents are not curently in use, but were loaned to KGH by the Kitimat Fire Department. According to Northern Health’s communications lead Andrea Palmer the tents are currently part of the hospital’s plan of considering how to increase capacity, staff safety during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are also intended for “consideration of creative options for patient/public reception” should the need arise.

“The tents have been erected as a planning exercise at this time but will be trialled over the next several weeks to prepare for any necessary future extended use for public reception and triage,” said Palmer. “No patient care is being conducted in or around them – nor is direct care planned for tents – the potential use being considered is patient or public reception, pending need and weather.”

Palmer added that the steps the regional health authority is taking is part of a plan to find a balance between addressing the needs of potential COVID-19 patients and reducing the risk of unintended consequences on other non-COVID-19 patients accessing acute or critical care within the system.

This includes, as the Province did on March 23, restricting access to things like hospitals, long-term care homes, assisted living sites and community clinics to essential visitors.

In this context, essential includes people visiting those in an end-of-life scenario or dealing with a critical illness, visits which are essential to the patient’s well-being (including help with feeding or assistance with mobility). No one who is sick with cold or flu-like symptoms can visit any Northern Health facility at this time in an attempt to halt the spread of COVID-19.

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