Construction of at least one mobile field hospital in Orange County is expected to begin Wednesday as coronavirus cases and hospital admissions hit record highs.
In response to the alarming figures, at least three hospitals have requested mobile field hospitals. Here they are.
- Fountain Valley Regional Hospital: 50 beds
- St. Jude Medical Center, Fullerton: 25 beds
- University of California, Irvine: 50 beds
The province reported 2,173 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing the cumulative number of cases to 107,937. Hospital admissions grew from 1,287 Monday to 1,371 Tuesday, including 296 ICU patients, from 288 the day before.
Both are new records – a daily occurrence since last week.
The consistently high numbers have put pressure on the availability of ICU beds in the province, which rose from 9.3% on Monday to 10.4% in the unadjusted category, and rose from zero to 1.4% in the ‘adjusted’ statistic that the state created to reflect the difference in available beds for COVID-19 patients and non-coronavirus patients.
The percentage of available ICU beds in the 11-county region of Southern California is 1.7%.
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To meet the need, mobile field hospitals are being set up to be housed in large trailers with hard-floor canvas tents and temperature-controlled units with running water, toilets, showers and generators, as well as air purifiers. Fountain Valley Regional Hospital will have 50 additional beds, St. Jude’s in Fullerton will have 25 beds and UC Irvine will have 50 beds.
“We’ve seen many swing tents take off in hospitals across the region,” said UCI spokesman John Murray. “That is usually to deal with overflow for things like emergency care, patients who wait, who want to offer them shelter. This is really something else. “
It was not immediately clear how the field hospitals will be staffed and what types of patients will be treated.
“We have a group that will meet in the next few days to decide,” said UCI spokesman John Murray. “The salesman will be on site early next week to set up the mobile field hospital.”
Dr. Vahe Gyulnazaryan discusses the challenges created by the latest wave of coronavirus cases and how it is different from before. Video broadcast Wednesday, December 16, 2020 on Today in LA.
Construction is expected to start on an empty plot next to the UCI Medical Center on Wednesday. The mobile field hospital may be ready to start by the end of next week.
Orange County is awaiting the first shipment of the Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, which will be distributed to medical personnel. About 25,000 doses are expected on Wednesday, according to Orange County CEO Frank Kim.
As has been the case for months, dozens of residents appealed to the board of supervisors on Tuesday to override the state’s home order and scold about face covers. Leon Page, Orange County counsel, explained that Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive branch is the final word on the stay home order and there is nothing the county can do to change it.
Dr. Clayton Chau, the county’s chief health officer and director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, made an emotional appeal to residents to adhere to physical remote and face covering mandates.
“All we know is that people should stay at home when they are sick, don’t mix up households and wear a mask, and do all the cleaning measures like washing hands, etc.” Chau said. That’s the only thing that works. ”
Chau speculated that new treatments may have helped keep most hospital patients out of intensive care.
“But people still end up in the hospital and still in intensive care,” Chau said. “Without all of these newly approved treatment options, the number of people in IC would probably be worse.”
County health officials are particularly grappling with housing for elderly people with dementia, who are infected and show no symptoms, Chau said.
“We can’t send them to a hospital … They don’t need that care,” Chau said. “ And we can’t send them to a nursing home … and we can’t send them to a hotel. ”
Those patients are likely to be housed at the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa, which is expected to open Thursday.
“But we only have 50 beds available,” Chau said. “ We will run out of options to take care of these people. ”