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San Diego health care providers head to Tijuana to aid virus patients

Mexican flag in Tijuan
Posted at 4:21 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 22:41:19-04

TIJUANA, Mexico (KGTV) – As Tijuana deals with a surge in COVID-19 patients, a team of various San Diego health care providers is wrapping up its first week of crossing the border to provide extra support.

"I got involved because we heard rumors of the epidemic really swelling in Tijuana and wanted to help," said UC San Diego’s Dr. Jess Mandel during an interview with 10News on Friday.

Mandel is helping organize the new effort and said that seven days a week for another three weeks a team will cross the border that consists of a critical care physician, a critical care nurse, a translator and a respiratory therapist.

"I've been down twice so far," he told 10News.

The team is volunteering at the Tijuana General Hospital which has reportedly been hit the hardest in the city with virus patients.

"It's clear when you visit that this is a system that's really under stress because of this unprecedented challenge because of COVID-19 and the number of patients that they're seeing," Mandel said. "What was identified to us as a potential need is actually more bedside monitors in the ICU and outside the ICU."

According to 10News media partner Televisa, as of Friday there have been 1,783 confirmed positive cases and 448 deaths in Tijuana.

"These are some of the sickest patients that I've seen with COVID-19 and that says a lot," Mandel says. "Our counterparts in Mexico, the doctors the nurses, they're truly inspiring. You will not find a smarter, harder working, more dedicated group of people working anywhere."

The Rotary Club of San Diego is gathering additional bedside monitors to be delivered to the hospital next week.