The temporary Federal Emergency Field Hospital on the 10th and 11th Floor of the Palomar Medical Center in Escondido has begun to see patients as a back-up for hospitals dealing with a crush of COVID-19 patients.
The patients at the field hospital have health issues or injuries not related to COVID-19, and would have gone to other local hospitals for treatment if it were not for an overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients requiring treatment across hospitals in San Diego County.
Earlier this month, NBC 7 spoke with ICU Nurse Michael Kennedy, who is with the California Nurses Association about the strain the growing number cases is putting on San Diego’s healthcare workers.
Even before the breaking point, Kennedy said, “Healthcare is a resource and it’s a finite resource, and if it’s being completely 100% utilized by COVID there is not much for what’s left.”
Now that resources are dwindling even more and ICU’s are at 0% capacity in Southern California, NBC7 has confirmed the first patients began arriving at the temporary federal hospital on New Year’s Eve.
Palomar Health Spokesperson, Bobette Brown, told NBC7 in an email, “The Federal Medical Station opened for patients on December 31. The average daily census has been less than 10 patients so far and will continue to expand per the State’s direction based on regional needs.”
There are 20 enhanced care treatment beds, 10 adjustable exam beds for triage, five bariatric beds, 25 toddler cots and 24 portable cribs included in the 250 bed facility which is being run by the state.
Palomar says the facility has been ramping up operations over the past three days, which happens to be in correlation with a surge in thousands of positive COVID-19 cases in the county.
At a testing site in Lemon Grove, NBC7 crews observed a line to be tested for the virus around the block. And according to San Diego County Health Officials Sunday’s COVID-19 reports showed a test positivity rate at a stunning 24%. This as the holiday season finally comes to a close.
San Diego International Airport telling NBC7 they saw their biggest uptick in travelers so far this year during the week of New Years, despite travel being down 69% overall pre-pandemic.
Airport Spokesperson Sabrina LoPiccolo said, “We saw close to 94,000 people traveling,” adding “This is actually the most that we’ve seen this year.”
A rough start to 2021 for San Diego hospitals now turning to a temporary fix for some relief.