A now-vacant UC San Diego dorm room will soon become a makeshift patient care center, freeing up hundreds of hospital beds for an expected surge in patients with the new coronavirus, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Tuesday.
While still in the planning phase, the goal is to use the UC San Diego dorm for patients that are not sick enough to remain in the hospital but can't yet return home, Fletcher said. The dorm will be able to hold about 200 to 250 patients.
The county did not identify which dorm was being considered but a message from UCSD to its students said the Nuevo East building was leased to the county for "'step-down' and low-level cases of COVID-19."
The 350-room building was just built and has not yet had students living inside. According to the UCSD housing website, the first students would have moved in on July 1.
Before the operation can be set up, county health officials are working to identify supplies for the care center, to line up medical staff and to create a protocol for the facility.
"We're not simply limited by what we're given by the state and federal government," Fletcher said in the county's daily briefing. " There are opportunities that present itself to us where we can take a creative approach in a unique partnership to raise our hospital system capacity."
Fletcher did not specify when the care center was expected to open but said it can be expected in the "near future."
The dorms have been closed as colleges address the potential for COVID-19 to spread amongst students. Learning for the spring semester has been moved online, following Gov. Gavin Newsom's order to shelter in place and practice social distancing.