San Diego Congressman Darrell Issa (R-50) is calling for a "swift reimbursement" of expenses for Palomar Medical Center's Federal Medical Station (FMS) after touring the field hospital on Wednesday.
“Since the Pandemic’s start, Palomar Medical Center has repeatedly answered the call to provide care for our community. At the State’s request, they recently activated the critical care site I toured [Wednesday], which is a remarkable new asset in the fight against COVID-19," Rep. Issa said.
The 250-bed “hospital within a hospital," was announced in April 2020 as a means to support county medical facilities in case the pandemic spreads and more patients are sickened with the virus.
A Look Inside Palomar Medical Center's Federal Field Hospital
During a national emergency, like the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government provides the medical stations to states in need of additional hospital beds, supplies and medicine, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The state then identifies counties with the most need and sets up the site in a pre-identified building, like Palomar Medical Center.
California activated the medical center in Escondido in Dec. 2020 and it began taking patients in January. The hospital is staffed by members of multiple teams, including Palomar Health and members of the California Health Corps.
“Let me be clear: Palomar kept its commitment to this community. We will ensure that government promises are upheld, and Palomar is reimbursed for their investments," Rep. Issa said.
Before the FMS was set up, the 10th and 11th floors of Palomar Medical Center were empty shells to accommodate future growth as the community grew, said Palomar Health CEO Diane Hansen.
In order to accommodate the FMS, Palomar Health said adjustments needed to be made, including setting up IT capabilities and extending oxygen ports to 40 of 100 beds.
The hospital is asking for a reimbursement of $3.5 million for their expenses.
But Palomar Health told NBC 7 they were not getting a clear understanding to whom they should submit their reimbursement to.
NBC 7 reached out to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) who said they have received paperwork from Palomar Medical Center for reimbursement and which remains under review.
"The agency has received paperwork from Palomar Hospital for reimbursement through its Public Assistance program. Submitted documentation remains under review. Additional time has been required due to the project’s complexity. We remain in frequent communication with our federal, state and local partners to obligate the project’s funds as expeditiously as possible," said Robert Barker from FEMA.
When it was announced in April 2020, the federal medical station was set to include 200 general use beds, 20 enhanced care treatment beds, 10 adjustable exam beds for triage, five bariatric beds, 25 toddler cots and 24 portable cribs, according to the county.