Federal field hospital planned for Escondido

Posted at 11:06 AM, Apr 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 07:34:33-04

ESCONDIDO (CNS) - A 250-bed federal field hospital is planned for Palomar Medical Center, San Diego County health officials announced Sunday.

The "hospital within a hospital" will be a fully functioning hospital and will add to the capacity of beds needed in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

Many federal field hospitals around the nation are pop-up hospitals. Places like the Los Angeles Convention Center, New York's Javits Center, and Central Park have been converted into Medical Stations. But not San Diego.

"It is a fully functioning hospital, which means an easier transition to making a 'hospital in a hospital,'" Palomar Health President and CEO, Diane Hansen, said.

When the Escondido facility opened in August 2016, it was dubbed as the "Hospital of the future." Hansen says the top two floors were intentionally kept vacant to accommodate future growth.

"How fitting that the 10th and 11th floors can now be used to meet a more critical need within the community?" Hansen said.

It is uncertain if this field hospital will only serve coronavirus patients or people with other critical needs.

"We are going to reach a point, if we are not there already, of the level of community transmission, that there will be no such thing potentially as COVID and non-COVID facilities," San Diego County Chief Medical Officer, Nick Yphantides, MD., said.

Right now, they say it will accommodate patients who "need it most."

The bed capacity in the region will need to grow in the coming weeks, Yphantides said, "as a storm begins to reach our region."

Doctors and nurses at Palomar Medical Center will staff the new medical station, officials said.

Officials said it was too early to predict the cost of staffing and supplying equipment to the medical station.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher called the added bed capacity "a positive step forward for our region."