Mon | Sep 20, 2021

Sav field hospital back on track, says WRHA

Published:Tuesday | September 14, 2021 | 12:10 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Eric Clarke, chairman of the Western Regional Health Authority.
Eric Clarke, chairman of the Western Regional Health Authority.


Waterlogged soil has caused a further delay in the construction of the 36-bed field hospital on the grounds of the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital in Westmoreland.

The field hospital, which should have started more than a month ago, only started on the weekend because the site was affected by heavy rainfall, said Eric Clarke, chairman of the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA).

A steep surge in in COVID-19 cases has depleted bed-space capacity at the hospital.

“The material was delivered to the site just yesterday (Sunday). The heavy equipment was there preparing the ground and I am told it will proceed smoothly now … ,” said Clarke. “… The land was so waterlogged that when we tried to do the preparation, it became like a pond.”


The foundation of the field hospital will be redesigned higher to avoid flooding.

COVID-19 patients are now being admitted to a newly refurbished area of the main hospital, said Clarke. The original 18-bed COVID-19 facility has long surpassed its capacity.

“We have repurposed and redesigned an area that wasn’t being used for a 14- to 20-bed facility. We retrofitted that area, we piped it with oxygen, and we started to move patients in there just this past Friday,” the WRHA chairman said.

Construction of a 15-bed field hospital in Hanover is at an advanced stage and will become operational within another week.

Clarke said there are plans to further expand accommodation into church halls through a partnership with the religious community. However, that plan has been temporarily placed on hold.

“If Savanna-la-Mar has a 100-bed (COVID-19) capacity, we should be able to manage the surge. If the surge continues beyond our capacity, then we will roll into the church hall facility right away,” added Clarke.