East County Rep. Darrell Issa Tours North County COVID-19 Overflow Facility
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Photo by Jacob Aere
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA 50) took a tour of the 11th floor at Palomar Medical Center Escondido on Wednesday morning to see what an overflow room for incoming patients looks like at the hospital.
The 10th floor of the building is currently stationed with 101 hospital beds and, as of Wednesday morning, was used to care for 18 patients with COVID-19. The 11th floor remains unused.
The facility is the only alternate care site located in San Diego County and handles patients from across Southern California.
“We saw warm beds that are available for further surge if needed, that have been prepared, that give us some relief,” Issa said. “What we also saw was the strain on the actual intensive care facilities, particularly those which are designed with negative pressure.”
Palomar Health’s alternative care sites, or federal medical stations, were first set up in spring 2020 by the National Guard to help deal with the influx of COVID-19 patients.
Palomar Health CEO Diane Hansen said the 10th floor got an upgrade last month.
“We were originally issued regular cots, you know a normal cot that you would see in a field hospital. The state rallied and gave us actual patient beds,” Hansen said. “It's just an open-air unit, but it does have dividers, it has actual patient beds and all of the equipment that is needed up there to take care of the patients.”
Issa said he was impressed by the patient overflow setup. But the government has yet to cover the $3.5 million of expenses for new facilities and staff at the Escondido hospital.
“Hospitals have to have the confidence that when they do something when asked, that they won't be doing it to the detriment of their own financial ability to pay other bills and treat their other patients,” Issa said.
The pandemic has stressed hospital staff, Hansen said. But Palomar Health has added nurses and ICU beds to their facilities. She added that none of the 101 cots on the 11th floor are projected to be used in the near future.
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