A “Brand New” Unit at QCH

Our QCH Medicine Unit (C3) has been a saving grace to help get patients from the Emergency Department to a bed in a timely manner.

C3 was an empty unit waiting to be renovated for Queensway Carleton Hospital’s (QCH) expanded Mental Health Program — until COVID-19 came along. Plans changed and a 16-bed unit was quickly created to provide overflow space for medical patients. That unit can be expanded to 35 beds if required.

“It made sense,” explains Clinical Director Lianne Learmonth. “The Medical/Surgical unit on C4 is close by and we wanted to make sure we had the right level of staff, equipment and supplies to care for patients. The 89 medical unit beds at QCH were consistently full, often with 120% occupancy and another option was needed. We looked at things from an emergency department (ED) lens, knowing that their world gets handcuffed when they are full and there is nowhere to send the patients. It’s just not good patient care,” adds Lianne.

The process to ‘create’ a new unit involved a coordinated effort. “We needed to order everything from computers, to IV pumps, to beds. We had to feed more people, clean additional spaces, and acquire personal protective equipment (PPE). It took a whole community to do that,” she says.

As the pandemic continues, the team continues to plan for the future. “We anticipate a very, very busy few months ahead and it can be challenging not knowing what is coming next,” says Lianne. “The number of staff and the number of physicians we have is limited as we continue to try and build capacity. But we know this is a much better standard of care than lying on a stretcher with just a curtain and no bathroom. C3 has been a saving grace to help move patients from the ED to a bed in a timely manner.”

C3 is part of the 56 newly funded beds Queensway Carleton Hospital received to help increase capacity.

“There is a real mix of newer staff and seasoned staff working on C3. They have created a great working environment. They are always great to help each other out, building strong relationships with each other.” Tammy Hirkala, QCH Clinical Manager, C3

Tammy Hirkala, QCH Clinical Manager, C3 and Lianne Learmonth, QCH Clinical Director, Critical Care.