Work to transform Deeside Leisure Centre into coronavirus field hospital gets underway
Work to transform a leisure centre in Flintshire into a coronavirus field hospital has got underway.
It was announced last week that parts of Deeside Leisure Centre in Queensferry would be converted to hold 250 beds for patients with symptoms of COVID-19.
Video footage posted on social media over the weekend showed contractors beginning to demolish a large indoor skate park to make room.
It attracted criticism from some residents about the choice of location because of the loss of leisure facilities, but others have been supportive of the move to help the fight against the pandemic.
Flintshire Council, which owns the leisure centre, has now released a statement explaining why it was picked.
A spokesperson said: “Deeside Leisure Centre (DLC) has been selected as the best available site for an emergency hospital to serve the eastern area of North Wales because of its location and accessibility by road; its size and internal layout; the availability of utilities and facilities such as accessible toilet and washing facilities.
“DLC also has the advantage of being able to have extended bed capacity beyond the initial 250 target if needed.
“DLC was chosen on Thursday 2 April by a team of partners including a multi-disciplinary professional team from the health board, the council as the landlord, the ambulance service, the fire service and the military, and in consultation with Aura Wales as the tenant.
“We now have the important task of transforming DLC into a temporary hospital by the end of April in readiness for the expected peak in demand for hospital admissions.”
The two main ward spaces will be the sports hall and the skate park hall.
The ice rink, which is currently in a dry condition with no ice covering, is a third space being held in reserve.
The local authority said the decision to demolish the skate park equipment was taken to enable the main contractor, who will fit-out the hospital, immediate access to the leisure centre from today.
More information will follow on how the temporary hospital, which will be managed by the health board, will operate and when it will open.
The spokesperson said the leisure centre would be returned to full use once the emergency is over.
They added: “Aura and the council will assess the options for the skate park hall and what can be offered in this space once the emergency situation is over.
“The council is approaching Welsh Government for financial support to reinstate DLC with new equipment for a leisure offer for the future.”
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter
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