Canadian Armed Forces winding down COVID-19 task force at Toronto’s Sunnybrook hospital

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has begun winding down its operations at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre amid the recent receding number of COVID-19 patients in Ontario’s intensive care units.

A Joint Task Force Central (JTFC) spokesperson told Global News the operation, dubbed Task Force Presidio with a contingent of approximately 50 military members (consisting of critical care nurses, two multi-purpose medical assistance teams as well as command and support personnel), began withdrawing from the hospital’s mobile health unit (MHU) over the Victoria Day long weekend.

News of the task force’s end also came as hospital officials confirmed the MHU is currently empty as capacity issues at the hospital have eased in recent days.

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“In discussions with our (health care and government) partners over the downward trend in COVID-19 cases, reduced ICU admissions, and the closure of the MHU at Sunnybrook, all are in agreement that support from the CAF is no longer required at this time,” Lt(N). Alicia Morris said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

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“JTFC is proud of the work conducted by Task Force Presidio and have developed a supportive phased approach to the withdrawal of medical personal and assets.”

Over the weekend, the multi-purpose medical assistance teams finished their operations at the Toronto trauma centre. Critical care nurses will continue their shifts inside the hospital until May 31, which was the pre-scheduled end date.

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As of May 31, Morris said the CAF will formally end its response efforts in the province.

The Ontario government made requests of other provinces and the federal government for assistance in April amid soaring cases, hospitalizations and admissions to ICUs. In that month, all-time daily case records shattered across the province with the peak high of fewer than 5,000 cases reported in a 24-hour period.

The deployment of the CAF personnel to Ontario wasn’t the first time personnel were asked to respond to the pandemic. In 2020, military members were sent to multiple long-term care facilities to provide help.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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