The first field hospital up and running in Ontario to fight the coronavirus, opened April 18, 2020 at the St. Clair College SportsPlex in Windsor. Photos courtesy of Windsor Regional Hospital.
Home » Biz Blog » Cup of Joe by Joe McParland » “DISPATCHES FROM A FIELD HOSPITAL”

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes


Premiering on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 9 p.m. ET on TVO (YOURTV Cable channel 2) and streaming afterwards at tvo.org and the TVO Docs YouTube channel, TVO Original “Dispatches From a Field Hospital ” is a heartrending and timely documentary on how Ontario families are straining to keep in touch while staying apart during the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

In this film, acclaimed Windsor filmmaker Matt Gallagher explores the challenges and hopes that his family, and so many others, share as they cope with elderly relatives who are living in long-term care, shut away from family support and interaction.

I had the chance to preview this film before the premiere and all I can say is WOW! SIMPLY WOW!

This is perhaps the most consequential film I have seen in my lifetime. These are not actors on TV’s hit television series, New Amsterdam, but are real flesh and blood neighbours, friends, and acquaintances of ours in the Windsor and Essex County region.


Most centuries have experienced monumental events that form part of their enduring history. The 17th century had the Industrial Revolution and the American Revolution, the 18th century had the American Civil War, and the 19th century had World War One and World War Two. Undoubtedly, the 20th century will be long remembered for COVID-19, the global pandemic that ravaged humanity and killed millions worldwide. And Windsor and Essex County are by no means exempt from the terror and death it brings.

In “Dispatches From a Field Hospital ” Gallagher documents for generations to come some of what Windsor and Essex County experienced in terms of the care of our elderly, the most vulnerable population affected by COVID-19.

In this film, Gallagher explores the challenges and hopes that his family, and so many others, share as they cope with elderly relatives who are living in long-term care, shut away from family support and interaction.

“So many Ontario families have been separated during this incredibly difficult period in our history. This TVO Original is deeply personal and thought-provoking in the way it bears witness to the emotional toll COVID-19 has had on families and especially their elders.”

John Ferri, VP of Current Affairs and Documentaries at TVO

Residents of long-term care homes have experienced some of the worst impacts of COVID-19, and the public health measures designed to help are also creating a difficult side effect: solitude.

As a high-risk population already suffering disproportionately from physical and mental ailments, seniors in long-term care have had to cut themselves off from their families to avoid the novel coronavirus. Windsor-based filmmaker Gallagher (director of award-winning TVO Original Prey) witnessed his own father contract COVID-19, which resulted in his transfer to a MASH-style field hospital with 49 of his fellow nursing home residents.

Featuring intimate conversations captured through tablets, smartphones, landlines and letters, the film follows a small group of families, including Gallagher’s, as they cope with the universal anxieties of the pandemic. Front-line healthcare workers also speak about their unique role in facilitating communication for those separated by quarantine measures.
“Making a documentary during a pandemic challenged me in more ways than I can count – both personally and as a filmmaker,” says Gallagher. “It was easily the most difficult film I have ever made. But, in the end, it was worth it, if only as an enduring love letter to my parents.”

Once again, be sure to watch the premiere of TVO Original “Dispatches From a Field Hospital ”on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 9 pm ET on TVO, or stream it anytime afterwards on tvo.org and YouTube. The film will also be rebroadcast on Saturday, March 20 at 10:30 p.m. ET and Sunday, March 21 at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Trailer for “Dispatches From a Field Hospital ” (courtesy of VIMEO and BorderCity Pictures Inc.)

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Joe retired January 2015 as a Superintendent from a 26 year career with the Canada Border Services Agency in Windsor. Since then he has jettisoned into a number of exciting new opportunities. Joe is in his 13th year as a volunteer with TVCogeco as their on air personality at Windsor City and Essex County Council Meetings, and his 11 years as a registered Ontario Marriage Officiant. Joe now shares his talents and numerous life experiences with Biz X as a regular blogger, columnist and any other “Joe – Jobs” we can find for him.