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UT: 250-bed ‘field hospital’ planned for Escondido ahead of expected COVID-19 surge

04/05/20

Read the full article by Teri Figueroa in the San Diego Union-Tribune here.

A 250-bed federal field hospital will be created inside Palomar Medical Center as San Diego County prepares for an expected surge of people with COVID-19 who will need to be hospitalized.

The beds will go on the vacant 10th and 11th floors — the top two floors — of the Escondido hospital, county officials announced Sunday, calling the coming facility “a hospital within a hospital.”

“It is a tremendously positive step forward for our region,” county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said.

The county expects the extra beds and associated equipment in what is officially dubbed a “federal medical station” likely will arrive inside the next 10 days, by mid-April. Once the items arrive, and a Heath and Human Services official arrives to run the setup, it will take no more than a day or two to get the field hospital operational.

News of the extra beds comes as the county and state brace for an expected surge of people so sickened by the novel coronavirus they will need to be hospitalized. County officials have been preparing for weeks, working to free up hospital beds and add more to the region’s inventory. They also have been scrambling to get enough ventilators.

“We’ve talked a lot about flattening the curve,” Fletcher said. “The second part of that is raising the bar, raising our health system capacity.”

Officials hope to have the beds ready to go before the need arrives. About 20 percent of people known to have the virus end up in the hospital — and a little less than half of those hospitalized need to be in an intensive care unit.