UCI Medical Center sets up mobile field hospital in parking lot to alleviate pressure on hospital

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- COVID-19 shows no signs of slowing in Orange County and as the region logged another single-day record for new cases over the weekend, the rising numbers are putting pressure on local hospitals.

One of the parking lots outside of UCI Medical Center is being transformed into a mobile field hospital to allow medical staff to treat more patients.

Students from Anteater Emergency Medical Services are some of the volunteers that are assembling the framework to add 50 temporary beds.

UCI Medical Center is one of the three hospitals in Orange County that has requested the mobile setup. It's a strategy that's expected to help alleviate the burden on the local health care system, especially as cases soar to record highs.

Orange County continued its record-setting pace of COVID-19 hospitalizations with 1,709 patients as of Monday, including 380 in intensive care, and also reported another 3,753 new coronavirus cases and two additional virus-related deaths.

Hospitalizations increased from 1,682 on Sunday, when there were 375 ICU patients. Both numbers are new records -- a daily occurrence dating back to early December.

Meanwhile, officials with Providence Southern California, which has 11 hospitals in the region, are reporting some encouraging news. The executive director of pharmacy says they're finding extra doses in each Pfizer vial they've received, on top of the 5 doses that were expected.

"Everybody has pretty much reported being able to extract six doses out of each vial," said Dr. Sy Amirpoor.

In last week's shipment, Providence received 2,600 vials, which should have provided 13,000 doses.

"This would add about 2,600 additional doses to that number, which is pretty substantial for a region of our size," he added.

But in order to be able to administer all of those doses, they'll need additional kits with more needles and syringes, which they hope the state will request and issue. Amirpoor says they hope to receive those supplies soon to avoid a mismatch toward the end of the cycle of using the first shipment of vaccines.

While the vaccine is encouraging in the fight against the pandemic, the Orange County Health Care Agency says residents still need to do their part, especially this week, and avoid gathering with other households.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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