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202-Bed Federal Hospital In Escondido Ready To Be Deployed, But Will We Need It?

Inside the federal medical station in Escondido, April 23, 2020.
Matt Hoffman
Inside the federal medical station in Escondido, April 23, 2020.

A new federal medical station is being set up in Escondido to help reduce strain on hospitals because of COVID-19.

Two floors at Palomar Medical Center Escondido are now home to a 202-bed federal field hospital, which will be staffed by Palomar personnel.

"These beds do not take care of clients by themselves," said Dr. Nick Yphantides, San Diego county's chief medical officer. "They require the availability of staff and they require the logistic availability of stuff: equipment, personal protective equipment, medication, monitoring equipment and all of that."


Officials were expecting to get 250 beds for the facility, which is above the rest of the hospital.

"There are times that patients can be doing just fine, but deteriorate rapidly," Yphantides said. "The ability to literally be one or be two floors away from higher levels of care that may be needed is an absolute brilliant integration of this facility."

The ward even has its own air system separate from the hospital below.

"They created a huge negative pressure floor so this air circulating here will only be on this floor and the one above it the same," said Rob Sills, county medical operations center director.

VIDEO: New Federal Medical Station Up and Running at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido

It is unclear whether the medical space will be used to treat those with the virus.


"The exact nature of the kind of patients that will be here is yet to be determined," Yphantides said.

Officials do say it will likely be for those without severe symptoms, but it's still not known if the extra beds will be needed at all.

"We hope we’ll never need to use it," Nick Macchione, the county's health and human services director, said.

Right now health officials say hospital capacity in our county is hovering around 50%. If that gets close to 80%, the Palomar field hospital or dorms at UC San Diego could be used for surge capacity.

Meantime county health officials are encouraging anyone who has a medical emergency to seek help.

"We have individuals that have been so afraid to come to the emergency room that their appendix have burst and have had major complications," Yphantides said.

These beds are designed to reduce strain on the overall hospital system.

"Especially now that we have increased capacity, please do not hesitate do not be reluctant to be afraid to receive the care that we need," Yphantides said.

It is unclear when, or if, the federal medical station might open.

202-Bed Federal Hospital In Escondido Ready To Be Deployed, But Will We Need It?
Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

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