Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) offered tremendous thanks and appreciation today as it returned the St. Clair College SportsPlex – site of a COVID-19 field hospital, drive-thru testing location and vaccination centre since the beginning of the pandemic – to the College and its students.
The state-of-the-art athletic centre can now be restored to its original purpose in time for the fall semester and sports season, some 15 months after it was first loaned to the hospital at a time when the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to take hold in our region.
In that time:
- 53 long-term care patients were treated at the SportsPlex, operating as a COVID-19 field hospital from April 18 to June 13, 2020.
- 7568 individuals were swabbed for COVID-19 tests in August, September and October when the SportsPlex was in use as a COVID-19 Assessment Centre
- 112,777 vaccines were administered, involving 85,051 unique individuals.
“We simply could not have accomplished what we need to, through the course of this COVID-19 pandemic, without the generous donation of adequate space from our friends at St. Clair College,” said WRH President and CEO David Musyj. “Dozens of long-term care residents received vital health support there that gave many a chance to recover without infecting other residents and LTC staff. Later, thousands of individuals were tested for the virus and most recently, tens of thousands of Windsor-Essex residents became inoculated against this virus. We cannot understate how fortunate we were that St. Clair College was willing and ready to assist our community – this is a great partnership that our community can be proud of.”
In order to commemorate this partnership and this unique period of time in our region’s history, WRH unveiled plans for a plaque that will be later placed inside the SportsPlex to commemorate the many individuals and staff who visited there during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
“It was both the college’s duty and honour to provide all of the facilities at our disposal in response to this crisis in our community,” said St. Clair President Patti France. “As an institution - as local citizens ourselves - St. Clair’s staff and students felt obligated to extend any help we could to care for our neighbours and relieve the burden on our health-care heroes during the pandemic. And that is an instilled philosophy and an ongoing commitment: when the community needs us, we will be there for it.”
On April 2, 2020, WRH announced that it had reached an agreement with St. Clair College to use the SportsPlex - a stand-alone athletic facility on its main campus - as a field hospital to assist in the caring of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In barely over two weeks, the SportsPlex was transformed into a 100-bed hospital facility. The SportsPlex was staffed by WRH employees and professional staff in the same way that the hospital would staff a typical WRH in-patient unit. The first long-term care patients arrived on April 18, with the last remaining patient returned to the home on June 13.
The facility was "paused" for clinical care so that it could be used again should the need arise over the course of the pandemic. The SportsPlex was used as a two-day “drive-thru” COVID-19 Assessment Centre in August, and then a daily testing centre through September and October. Two months later, on Dec. 22, 2020, WRH inoculated its first local residents with the Pfizer vaccine and the SportsPlex continued to operate as a vaccination centre until just last week. Vaccinations are now largely being consolidated at the Devonshire Mall location – using the large department store space once occupied by former retail giant Sears.