BARRIE -- IOOF Seniors Homes has partnered with Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) to fight against COVID-19.

A 27-bed unit inside the IOOF's Odd Fellow and Rebekah Home has been temporarily transformed into a satellite inpatient unit to house alternative level care patients from RVH.

The patients who are transferred to the temporary unit will still be cared for by some 35 RVH staff members until they can transition to other permanent long-term care facilities.

RVH President and CEO Janice Skot said joining forces with IOOF has helped free up beds at the hospital, "and the model is working because seven have been discharged to date as well."

"They know their caregivers, and medical oversight is coming from the RVH physician team as well, so right now, that's allowed us to move 31 patients in total," Skot added.

IOOF Seniors Homes Inc. CEO Garry Hopkins said that no staff members or residents at the IOOF have tested positive for the virus, so everyone that comes through the doors is carefully screened.

"They are swabbed at RVH, to ensure they are not COVID-positive. They are transported to the RVH satellite site here at the IOOF, and they enter through a totally separate entrance that is off-limits to our own staff or anybody else, except those who belong or are working with the RVH satellite space."

Hopkins added that the RVH staff is also checked upon arrival.

"They are coming through our main entrance, where they have to go through our screening desk."