There is no perfect time for a pandemic. However, there is a perfect time to open a new hospital.
Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center opened the Ocean View Tower in January 2020. It was the first new hospital in San Diego’s South Bay in more than 40 years. The coronavirus pandemic shut down California less than two months later.
“The last 10 months have been rough,” exclaimed Sharp lead nurse Alfonso Valdez.
“It’s been a challenging situation,” chimed in mobility tech Guadalupe Torres-Navarro.
Valdez and Torres-Navarro migrated into the new seven-story tower after it opened. Since then, they have helped treat more than 6,800 COVID-19 patients. Their Ocean View Tower sits in the heart of some of the communities hit hardest by the pandemic.
“[The tower] has been making the difference,” Valdez said.
The longtime nurse said the 150 new rooms and extra space allowed them to handle an influx of patients. The original Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center couldn’t carry the load, Valdez said.
“Oh, I don’t think so -- I think, without this building, no way,” Valdez said, shaking his head side-to-side.
“I don’t think it would have been done,” Torres-Navarro said.
Torres-Navarro is one of the few people who actually comes in contact with COVID-19 patients.
“Sometimes you feel sad because you feel like it’s your family,” Torres-Navarro said. “We’ve been taking care of them and trying to be as much family as we can.”
“I can’t imagine having a family member in the hospital and not being able to be by their side,” Valdez said with sigh.
“You get nervous at times,” admitted Torres-Navarro. “You don’t know exactly what the COVID is. We just don’t know how it came.”
If the pandemic had to come, it’s good it arrived after the Ocean View Tower was ready.
“This is what’s making the big difference,” concluded Valdez.
A Sharp Chula Vista spokeswoman said the South Bay hospital has cared for nearly 40% of Sharp HealthCare’s total COVID-19 population. She added that the hospital has successfully discharged more than 1,600 COVID-19 patients who had to be hospitalized.