Joseph Brant Hospital at 94% capacity - CEO asks for public support in staying safe

News 100 redBy Eric Vandewall, President and CEO Joseph Brant Hospital

April 15th, 2021



A short walk from Joseph Brant Hospital is Spencer Smith Park, a beautiful green space by the waterfront where, in past years, friends and families would gather in large numbers to enjoy the warm weather, music and food festivals and open-air movie nights.

We know how difficult this year has been for everyone – we feel it too. We all want to return to a time when we could enjoy the simple pleasures of pre-pandemic life. But we urge you to be patient, stay home and follow all public health measures. We need your help to avert a crisis.

Eric andewall TITLE

Eric Vandewall

Across Ontario, we are seeing enormous strain on our hospitals, and JBH is no exception. The new Variants of Concern have quickly taken hold and are fueling this third wave, causing a rapid surge in cases and hospitalization of patients with more severe symptoms.

At JBH, we are currently at 94% capacity and reached full capacity this past weekend. In just two weeks, the number of COVID-19 patients in our care has more than doubled and continues to increase daily.

We are doing everything we can to make beds available to the rising number of patients – both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 – who require urgent, life-saving care. We have put all non- urgent surgeries and procedures on hold. We have added four intensive care beds and will be adding three more by the end of this week – 31 beds in total. But resources are limited, and may not be enough if the demand continues.

Hospital modular

Pandemic Response Unit

We have been working with our regional and provincial partners in managing COVID-19 care, so that no one hospital is overwhelmed. We have the capability to transition our Pandemic Response Unit – which is currently serving as a Halton Region Vaccination Clinic – back to providing COVID-19 care within 24 hours. We would continue to run the clinic, which has already administered more than 10,000 vaccinations, in another part of the hospital.

Like many of you, our JBH staff and physicians have made enormous sacrifices during the pandemic, and your unwavering support has meant so much. You helped us get through it, and we need your support once again.

Please follow public health guidance. Stay home unless it’s essential, such as buying food or picking up medication. Wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, physically distance from others and do not gather with anyone outside of your household.

There are skeptics who will try to convince you that this is all unnecessary. I can assure you, they are wrong. If this upward trend continues hospitals will be overwhelmed.

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15 comments to Joseph Brant Hospital at 94% capacity – CEO asks for public support in staying safe

  • Denise W.

    Wish people would stay safe. Many people won’t even follow the arrows on the floors at the grocery store. Almost any time I happen by the skateboard ramps at Nelson Park it is full of kids with no masks and not distancing. These people are really blowing it for others.

  • Steve W

    Declare martial law. It’s time that we shut everything down including groceries, pharmacies and all retail.. No one other than essential workers leaves their home for any reason for 3 weeks. That will stop the virus in it’s tracks. Anyone found outside ss fined severely. Repeat offenders jailed indefinitely.

  • Bob

    Last year a Covid wing was added to the hospital and has had 0 patients go through. It is currently being utilized as a vaccine center. Why are you saying your 94% capacity when you havent even used that? The vaccines could and should have been administered at Central Arena or another suitable location. I call BS and say you’re at capacity by inept managing of resources.

    • David Barker

      Well I guess you would know, Rob, because you are on the inside and have full knowledge of affairs within JBH, right ?

      If I recall correctly the temporary structure at JBH is to handle non-critical COVID patients. I believe the 94% refers to the ICU.

      • Bob

        Quoting the CEO here where this 93 bed temporary structure will relieve capacity.
        “The Pandemic Response Unit is being built as a critical part of our pandemic response plan to meet the heightened care needs of our community and ultimately save lives,” Eric Vandewall, president and CEO of Joseph Brant Hospital
        And to quote the Chief I’d staff
        Dr. Ian Preyra, chief of staff for Joseph Brant Hospital, said that the new unit will allow the hospital to preserve its critical care and high acuity patients beds for their sickest patients.

        So David, I have no inside information, I just have the managements own statements where they have said our taxpayer dollars built a Temporary structure to relieve the pressure in the icu and critical care at the hospital. My concern is if it isn’t used, that is 93 available beds and adding 93 beds is no where near capacity is it?

        • David Barker

          Bob, your quotations are correct. Howevver when those quotations were made at that time clarification was provided that the new temporary structure was not going to be used to house COVID critical patients but would be used for cases where people are recovering from COVID and are on their journey out of the hospital.

          So to reiterate the temporary structure is not being used and was never intended to be used for critical (ICU) care for COVID patients.


          • Bob

            Correct, it was to be used so the critical care was not over run as they are now saying they are. So open the temporary structure and use it for its intended purpose
            While we are not using our structure, just down the road at HHS they are in the process of building a field hospital to alleviate icu’s in neighbouring regions. Would not utilizing the Joe Brant temporary structure help in that? No matter it’s stated purpose, which after showing you managements own statements that we now agree on, would it not help the provincial statistics to help in the ICUs in the GTHA’s being over run?

          • David Barker

            Bob, opening the temporary structure does not solve the problem. Opening the temporary structure does not increase the number of ventilators, or other equipment needed in an ICU, nor does it increase the number of ICU trained staff. You could open the entire JBH to COVID patients but that would have no affect on the ICU capability. The critical care (ICU) unit is being overrun by patients requiring ICU care not by other less sick patients.

            Get it now ?

          • Bob

            No I don’t as you haven’t explained what the purpose of ever building the temporary structure is. As the CEO himself was quoted as saying during construction, it was built to relieve capacity.
            That isn’t what it IS or has ever been used for, so explain the purpose of wasting tax dollars for a building that was never needed and isn’t needed according to you.
            I have supplied direct quotes from those in the know, if you know more than the CEO, enlighten me with some quotes

          • David Barker

            OK, Bob I have previously told you the purpose if the temporary structure. But for you I’m going to write this very slowly so you can read along slowly and take it in. LOL

            As said above “the new temporary structure was not going to be used to house COVID critical patients but would be used for cases where people are recovering from COVID and are on their journey out of the hospital.”

            The issue JBH has is that it does not have sufficient critical care (ICU) capabilities (beds, respirators, trained staff etc.). It has sufficient non-critical care capabilities, which is what the temporary facility is for.

            As to why it was built if enough non-critical care capabilities exist within the building, and why was the money spent, I cannot answer that. What I woukd say if the temporary structure is needed for just one bed for just one day, it is money well spent and was solid planning.

            So, Bob. There is ICU capacity. There is non-critical care in-take capacity. There is non-critical recovery (out-take) capacity. The 94% is solely ICU.

            Got it now ?

          • Bob

            Nope, still don’t get it because now the CEO is saying that the hospital is at 91% capacity. So all I see is numbers going down, but you didn’t care to reply to that one did you.
            It really sounds like you have inside information but as I said in my comments to the more recent alarmist comments from the CEO, playing Chicken Little is just going to get ignored eventually. In his comments in the story, he doesn’t differentiate between ICU and hospital capacity, nor in his comments from April 24 does he, only you so far have. I’ll write this slowly so even you can understand it. 94% on the 15th and 91% on the 24th. Does that sound like numbers are going up or down or the sky is falling?
            No matter how you want to spin this, either the temporary structure is not being utilized for its intended purpose or it is a white elephant that was taxpayer dollars being wasted for a purpose that was never feasible.

          • David Barker

            Bob, I assure you I have no inside information. I just seem to have a clearer understanding of what the CEO is saying.

            As respects the fluctuation in the percentage of capacity used, let’s say the ICU only has 50 beds or only 50 respirators. Then the departure of just one patient from the ICU (breathing or not) represents a 2% swing. An insignificant amount. Until we see capacity at 50% or below I believe it remains urgent and worrisome.

            You by now will have heard that the Provincial govt, it’s scientist and doctor advisors have through the federal government called in the Red Cross and the military to assist in Ontario’s ICUs. That should speak volumes as to the reality of the situation in ICUs.

            In my view outsiders like you and I, ignorant of what is happening inside our hospitals, have no business questioning what our hospital administrators and our doctors on the front lines are telling us.

            Best wishes.

    • Denise W.

      Likely the beds in the Covid Response Unit are not on the roster. Right now they are not even staffed, so I don’t think they are being counted. And if they do get staffed, buy whom? The cost will be big. It will mean spreading the nurses and support staff even thinner. Longer shifts and no days off. But we have to build the surge capacity, just hope it is never needed.

    • David Barker


      Sunnybrook Hospital is about to open its “field hospital” which will have the same purpose as that at JBH.

      I include here an excerpt from a report published today by 680 News.

      “Sunnybrook is opening  its field hospital this week with a total of 20 beds being available by the end of the month. The beds will be used for COVID-19 patients who are recovering or have recovered and are awaiting to go home or to be transitioned to an alternative care setting.

      Each tent set up at Sunnybrook contains eight to ten beds ready to handle patients. In total, the field hospital will be able to handle up to 100 patients”.

      That same report also notef the following:-

      “Hundreds of patients in just the past two weeks have reportedly been transferred from hot spot hospitals to other parts of the province to free up desperately needed beds.

      GTA hospitals now overflowing with COVID patients have transferred over 550 patients to other areas of the province.”

      The patie to being transfered are not COVID patients but patients with other ailments.

      I hope this helps with your understanding as to the purpose of the temporary structure at JBH.

      Best wishes.

  • Joe S.

    We have had our vaccinations, we have worn our masks every time we have left home for over a year and we are scared. Yet the parking lots at both malls are full and busy. Why? Retail needs to close and only supermarkets and drug stores need to be open. A curfew would be useless because people would still be out in droves during the day shopping for lord knows what! We haven’t seen our grand-daughters for over a year so to see people parking at the malls for picking up books, clothes etc, well it really pisses me off!