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U of T's Faculty of Nursing answers hospitals' call for patient beds amid COVID-19 pandemic

U of T's Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing is loaning up to 14 patient beds to local hospitals – part of a larger, campus-wide initiative — as they rush to prepare for an influx of COVID-19 patients (photo by Johnny Guatto)

The University of Toronto’s Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing is loaning 14 patient beds to local hospitals – one of the many ways U of T is working with its partner hospitals to confront the COVID-19 pandemic. 

When Women’s College Hospital and Baycrest Centre issued a call for hospital beds last week to prepare for a possible influx of coronavirus patients, there was never any question that the Faculty of Nursing would step up, according to Arleen Morrin, the faculty’s chief administrative officer.

“We’re in the nursing profession and so we are in the practice of helping others,” she said. “It was really a no-brainer.” 

Seven beds were set aside for each hospital. Women’s College Hospital said the six medical-surgical beds and one critical care bed would help increase capacity in case of a spike in the number of inpatients. 

“The significance of this gesture cannot be overstated,” said Greg Chow, vice-president, finance, partnerships and chief financial officer at Women’s College Hospital and a graduate of the Rotman School of Management. 

The global pandemic has created high demand for hospital beds and made it “extremely difficult” to obtain more, he added. 

“Demand for inpatient beds has risen to such high levels so rapidly, making it exceptionally challenging for the supply chain to meet that demand. Thanks to U of T, our hospital is better prepared to assist the downtown system with operationalizing more inpatient capacity in an immediate way should the system require it.” 

The donated beds are typically used in the faculty’s Nursing Simulation Lab, a roughly 370-square metre state-of-the-art teaching space equipped with a mock in-patient ward, critical care unit, isolation room, operating room and other facilities meant to recreate a hospital setting and provide students with hands-on learning opportunities. The beds are being sent out on loan while U of T students pursue their studies remotely while physical distancing guidelines are in place to combat COVID-19. 

The Faculty of Nursing, along with other faculties and divisions across U of T’s three campuses, has also donated stockpiles of masks, gloves, gowns and hand sanitizer to area hospitals. 

Overall, as of Monday morning, U of T has collected 312,000 gloves of various types, 9,800 masks and about 8,300 N95 respirators for the Toronto Academic Health Science Network.