Federal Hospital Coming To Palomar Medical Center As Officials Brace For Coronavirus Surge
With cases of coronavirus expected to surge here in the coming weeks, officials Sunday announced plans to build a 250-bed federal hospital at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido.
The field hospital will be set up on two empty floors inside the Palomar facility.
"It’s an existing structure," Diane Hansen, Palomar Health's CEO said. "An existing hospital and it’s a little easier to spread staff and resources throughout the house rather than standing up a completely separate location."
Palomar Health doctors and nurses will staff the hospital. Trucks carrying supplies for the site could arrive within a week.
"We’re trying to avoid the scenes you’re seeing in New York in Italy and other places where you have folks who are really sick but can’t get into a hospital," said San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher in an interview with KPBS.
Fletcher said he lobbied California Gov. Gavin Newsom directly to get these additional beds.
"Our efforts are to do everything we can to get everything possible," Fletcher said. "And so 250 new hospital beds is 250 beds better than where we were. Will that be enough? Only time will tell."
It is unclear if the site will be used to treat patients with the virus or those with other needs.
"As they determine what the needs are two, three weeks from now I’ll think they’ll make that decision to decide what patients go there," Hansen said.
This is one of a number of pop-up hospitals the federal government is giving to California. The feds supply all of the beds, medication and personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for the hospital. The county requested one from state officials on March 21 and the Army Corps of Engineers approved it last week.
Once equipment arrives, the hospital can become operational within just 24 hours.