Critical six foot rule not being observed on the hospital site where 93 bed modular health unit is being assembled.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 4th, 2020



It was the right decision.

Create additional ICU capacity for the wave of infections that are about to hit the province.

The Joseph Brant hospital moved quickly; allocated $2 million to a field hospital that can hold 93 people and the equipment needed to get them through the infection.

Hospital president Eric Vandewall made sure that the modular field hospital was sourced and delivered quickly. Trucks left Calgary with all that was needed and in just over a day the parts to construct the modular hospital were on the ground and being assembled.

Modular - full view

Located right beside a side entrance to the hospital the 93 bed modular unit is being assembled in about 12 days.

The structure looks a little like the inflated domes used for people to play soccer in.

The unit sits right beside a side entrance to the hospital – making the transfer of patients into the modular unit and back to the hospital if a higher level of care is needed – smooth and efficient.

The hospital expects to have everything in place by the end of the week.

But … there are health safety issues on the site.

The six foot rule seems to have been forgotten.

Modular three workers

Never mind the six foot rule – these men are not even six inches apart – 20 feet from the entrance to the modular 93 bed health unit they are assembling.

Men work inches apart over a piece of equipment. A hole had to be drilled into a steel plate – the drill bit broke twice.

A little further from the construction area a group of men gathered around what looked like an administration office for the builder – BLT.

No protective masks – which may not have been necessary. And not all that much in the way of space between the men.

Earlier in the day three doctors, President and CEO of Ontario Health Matthew Anderson alongside President and CEO of Public Health Ontario Dr. Peter Donnelly and Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health Adalsteinn Brown revealed the projected numbers at Queen’s Park on Friday.  They spent an hour and a half explaining what the projections were for COVID-19 infections. The low end of the projections was 3,000 to 15,000 that could die.

That was possible if people worked to that six foot rule. Those on the Joseph Brant hospital site didn’t adhere to the rule – if just one of them was infected – then they would all become infected and take what they had picked up to the people they interacted with.

This is what the doctors were very very worried about.

With this kind of behavior everyone is at a much higher risk.

Modular - workers - group

Construction workers on the hospital site fail to adhere to the 6 foot rule – endangering everyone they are in contact with.

The Gazette photographer was a good 15 feet away.

Ironically and disturbing that someone did not explain to these men what and why they were putting together a modular health unit.

Some of them might be the first patients to be in one of the 93 beds available.

The spread of the COVID-19 virus is preventable – but not with this kind of behavior.

Where was the project supervisor?

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14 comments to Critical six foot rule not being observed on the hospital site where 93 bed modular health unit is being assembled

  • Alfred

    Jim. Hang in there. This is one of the very few media forums that allow citizens of Burlington to talk to each other. Good luck getting your opinion posted anywhere else. Mr Parr has kept me in line a few times. It’s all part of the game. How can one learn from others if we all have the same view.

  • Helen Skinner

    Jim, let me assure you that this was not the Gazette taking it’s best angle. I drove by the same day and saw these construction workers huddled together with my own eyes and was blown away!!!

  • David thanks for your reply that confirms the need for Burlington to be providing us with current information. Lots don’t know how to read the Halton stats so daily updates from our Mayor would be nice like the Global News stats set out above in our original post that indicates on April 2, 2020 – 35 of their positive cases in Halton were related to one traveller – that’s a huge number imagine if everyone who had travelled and returned to Canada infected many people and they in turn infected the same number because they were not practising self-isolating and safe distancing

    Halton’s past history in managing infectious disease is not good. 1. MOH did not report death from West Nile to the Region or its residents until caught by Metroland reporter (something we took to the College of Physicians and Surgeons on our dime and Halton taxpayers paid for the defence of the indefencible which the College refused to address the government agency that agreed it was an offence that needed addressing. 2. The evidence in the hands of the last government (and now this government) is JBH c-diff known outbreak (largest death toll in Ontario) was ignored for seven months before began to do what they were legislated to do – 91 died (all of them elderly) after contracting this infectious disease that took Michael Gardam another year to bring under control. Details in On Bryant’s Watch – Alerts Page of website that is now in the Seniors Ministers hands for review and action. 3. Infected ulcer that was ignored and coroner stated cause of death was hailed by the Hamlton hospital who received the patient from JBH as the worst they have ever seen – the family were left in the dark!

    Readers should be grateful to the Gazette for being vigilant in terms of the JBH construction site case and bringing to readers and Halton Region attention so that it can be fixed rather than ignored – this does not mean the Gazette and its readers are not appreciative of front line workers.. If these construction workers are from other cities or provinces they should also be grateful. Premier Ford and Minister Elliott are personally following up on issues brought to their attention whether on their media time or personal time. Shooting the messenger as is happening here is not the way to go to protect our vulnerable many of whom are being cared for at JBH by a terrific front line work force who also need protection of safe distancing especially in their own backyard.

  • Jim Ridley

    I’m done with the Burlington Gazette.

    and all the other Social Media Warriors for that matter. I’m really tired of the media in general and the bored social media users who are fueling the C-19 panic. The VAST majority of people are following the rules. Cell phone snaps from an angle to inflate the appearance of a small group are cowardly at best.

    Editor’s note: It is not unusual for people to want to “shoot the messenger” when they don’t like the message. The photographs we published were not taken by a call phone and they were not done from an “angle to inflate the appearance”

    We do agree with the reader – the vast majority are following the rules – the problem is with those who aren’t – the rate at which the transmission of this virus grows is exponential. One IS far too many.

  • Alfred

    My crews have been wearing masks for over a week. I wear one all day long even when driving at times. Masks should not pose a problem for the workers. Staying 6′ apart all the time would be impossible for these poor guys. Lifting heavy things by yourself is a little difficult. These men and women on the front line should wear masks. Having said that they deserve our thanks and praise. E. Maria when you are praying. Say an extra pray for these men and women. They will be the ones who will really answer your prayers. God bless them.

  • Ray Rivers

    Hold the phone everybody – there is an awful lot of anger in some of these comments. If we are to survive what could be a very long period of dealing with this highly contagious virus in our lives, we need to back off and stop attacking a messenger – your independent press.

    I have worked on construction. And workers cannot be faulted for having to speak and work together – it’s mostly a cooperative activity. Social distancing is a great idea but it can’t be applied effectively for those in the construction business, as the Gazette has pointed out with their photos.

    As one of the angry commenters noted, doctors often have to work shoulder to shoulder – but they are protected as best they can because they wear face coverings and eye protection – protecting the patient, themselves and, more recently, those around them. In fact if these media critics voicing their anger had walked into a hospital today they’d see pretty well everyone wearing a mask, whether in the OR or not.

    COVID 19 spreads via moisture droplets. Wearing a face covering can limit or eliminate the danger of direct exposure. Recent research shows that people can spread the virus without having symptoms, like a high temperature. The rest of the world is moving to requiring mandatory face coverings for everyone in public.

    Social distancing is essential – but when you can’t keep 2 metres away from everyone else around you, as on the subway, bus, crowded shopping aisle or construction site – using a face covering protects others around you and that ultimately protects you.

    Can’t find a mask in a store – make one – here is how…. – and chill folks. We are all in this together.

  • Jim

    to E. Maria. if God was going to protect you. They wouldn’t be building this ICU. That was an Ignorant comment you made. You have to pick one either Social Distancing and Unsafe Work(no ICU being built) or Working together safely to build a 9000sq ft ICU in 14 days.
    No one attacked the author about Social Distancing in General. The comment was about shaming workers who are working tirelessly to complete a task that will save lives. The Longer it takes , the less ICUs your going to have. There are many more to build and i don’t see God putting them up anytime soon.

    And please tell me what the Author knows about Are they and expert on the matter? and has the author of the article contacted the Hospital administration to see what they ACTUALLY think. instead of just leaving a statement for you to assume the worst, instead of actually doing some work and investigating to find out what they really believe. This is Low Blow, Lazy Journalism.

  • E. Maria

    It’s clear that these workers are not taking this pandemic seriously.
    I see many are attaching the writer for telling what he knows about the spread of the COVID 19.
    That’s how it starts. It is inevitable at this point. Too many ignorants.
    This is the third world war started from China. People are dying like flies. God may protect humanity from this virus and from their ignorance

  • Perry

    An awful lot of idle wondering here…too much time on your hands?

  • Micheal

    This writer should be fired. These pictures are taken during a Safety Talk, during the overlap of day and night shift, both working 12 hr shift around the clock until it’s finished. The meeting would not be very safe if you couldn’t understand what was being said due to the enormous spread of space it would take for everyone to be 6′ apart. Each person has their temperature taken and to is check for it is checked for symptom at the start of every shift. No outside person is allowed inside the fenced off area and there are cleaners present to sanitize everything 24 hrs a day. Every worker ha hard hats, boots,

    maybe instead of hiding to sneak a picture and shaming the workers, you could have suggested a better way for them to [perform their task 6 ft apart. shame on Burlington Gazette for even publishing this story. If Pepper Par would have stayed a little longer, they could have had a great picture of the entire Police & Fire Department surrounding the site with sirens on giving the workers a standing ovation. That would have been a much better angle on a new ICU built in 14 Days. during a very stressful time for everyone.
    you could have also done some research and found out that the Ministry of Labour has more authority then the Police when it comes to enforcing safety on a job site. why didn’t you ask them their opinion on how to work safely 6′ apart and with a mask that makes it impossible to understand what the person next to you is saying. I guess that means no one can hold your ladder anymore either.

    This article is absolutely tasteless. probably why this is the first (and last) time I’ve even heard of this paper.

  • Kris Lowry

    Correction to one line in my comment. ‘It should read: Do you even understand the ignorance in your article.’

  • Kris Lowry

    Shameful reporting. These men are working 24/7 for your town. They are exhausted. Missing their loved ones. When working together they are a family. They do not go home at shift change. They stay together until the job is done. All you managed to reported on is ‘one moment’ during the last 6 days. Look at the other reports and pictures from other outlets and you will see they are wearing their PPEs. These men are the soldiers and they are the unsung heroes. Whats next for this reporter? Will it be taking photos and bashing our doctors, nurses and paramedics who also have to work shoulder to shoulder with each other and their patients in order to do their job? Have you ever worked on a job site? Do you even u defers day the ignorance in your article. Shame on your reporter and shame on your paper for allowing this type of hateful ‘caught in the moment’ witch hunt reporting.

  • Halton stats released April 2 through Global News state: “Thirty-nine people in Halton region are symptomatic and still awaiting test results, according to public health.

    On Thursday, April 2, Halton attributed 35 cases of their positive cases to an individual with a history of travel.”

    Wonder if this was the doctor who did not self-isolate and went straight back to seeing patients after travelling! We need Halton to be more transparent on this i.e. Burlington, Oakville, Milton or Halton Hills? These stats should clearly be a Halton media release that Gazette can pick up on. Wonder what the cross-infection outcome could be of the JBH construction workers not social distancing right under the eyes of hospital administration ……

    • David

      I used to check the Halton Covid-19 statistics every day on their website, Location, age, gender Travel/Contact information per case, then go to the appropriate months drop down menu for more detail, where the travel occurred did they have pre existing conditions etc.
      It was very helpful to get an understanding of the virus and to gage my own personal risk.
      They stopped doing that around case-14. Halton replied to an e-mail from me stating that they relied on media releases to populate their web site (I thought it worked the other way round)
      They now just do totals, giving the impression we are all at risk within our individual age range.
      But that is not true is it.
      Before they stopped sharing you could see most of the cases were from travel.China, Iran. Egypt, Italy UK, pretty much in that order, for the most part serious cases were the result of pre-existing conditions.

      Knowing these facts have given me an idea as to how many waves of Canadians abroad are coming back home and it gives me hope that after the last Canadian is repatriated and cannot get back out again. (Flights to the US are still in operation and 10% of the flights from the US to various parts of the world are still available) so a few Canadians could conceivably escape.
      Apparently there are still 28k Canadians in India.
      You can check Air Canada web site to see what humanitarian flights are coming in to Canada to get a perspective on when the next wave will hit.

      I personally am a goals driven person, I don’t like being kept in the dark, I like having hope, I can sacrifice for the greater good but I must have hope.

      Those people traveling home, I beg you to self isolate. I was in the US when this hit, cut short my plans and headed home in January. I have barely ventured out over the last 2-months just in case.