New hospital opens north of Toronto to help health system with COVID-19 care

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VAUGHAN, Ont. — A new hospital opening north of Toronto today will spend the first phase of its existence as a dedicated treatment hub for COVID-19 patients and a centre officials hope will add intensive care capacity to Ontario's strained health-care system.

The Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital in Vaughan, Ont., won't immediately open for full service, according to operator Mackenzie Health.

Instead, the new facility will focus on its 35 ICU beds and 150 general internal medicine beds, which are currently earmarked for COVID-19 patients.

Mackenzie Health says that while the new hospital focuses on expanding intensive care capacity, its emergency department remains closed until the province's health-care system stabilizes.

Other programs, such as women's and children's health, inpatient mental health and inpatient stroke treatments, will stay based at nearby Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital.

Vaughan mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua says Cortellucci Vaughan is the first newly built hospital in Ontario in more than 30 years, and the 11-hectare health centre will create about 1,000 jobs on the path to eventually opening as a full-service health-care facility

Mackenzie Health says the project cost about $1.7 billion, including $1.3 billion from the Ontario government.

The hospital was built with mostly single patient rooms which allow for better infection prevention, the hospital operator said.

Cortellucci Vaughan's opening comes as the province reported 926 people across the province are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, including 335 people in intensive care and 233 patients on a ventilator.

York Region, where the new facility is located, is a long-standing provincial COVID-19 hot spot. Health Minister Christine Elliott said 121 of the 1,489 new infections reported provincewide on Sunday were identified in York.

"Opening Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital remains our government’s most pressing local priority — delivering exceptional care in the heart of our community — while also supporting our province as we recover from this pandemic," said a statement from Stephen Lecce, the local provincial legislator who also serves as Ontario education minister.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2021.

The Canadian Press