San Bernardino County sets up overflow site as hospitals brace for surge in patients

San Bernardino County is preparing for an overflow of patients at hospitals as coronavirus cases in the area continue to spike rapidly.
COLTON, Calif. (KABC) -- San Bernardino County is preparing for an overflow of patients at hospitals as coronavirus cases in the area continue to spike rapidly.

The county is bringing back "Alternate Care Sites" to handle a possible overload.

One site has been set up in a parking lot at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. Dubbed the "ACS Village," it consists of a nursing unit, 32 beds for patients, an isolation pod and a command center for staff breaks.

"Our previous peak in hospitalizations was in early April, but we've recently experienced a significant increase in patients, including a doubling of our hospitalization rate over the past 30 days," Dr. Troy Pennington, an emergency room physician at the hospital, said in a statement.

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"Many of our hospitals are nearing the point of using beds beyond their normal licensed capacity," Pennington added.

The county is looking at establishing other potential Alternate Care Sites at county medical facilities if needed.

Officials say county hospitals are currently able to meet the demand of hospitalizations, but are taking steps to prepare if hospitalizations continue to increase.

"Any surge will first be handled within hospital areas, but ACS Village provides an opportunity to care for patients should our hospital fill up," said William Gilbert, hospital director at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.

Pennington said the Alternate Care Sites will serve patients who have already been treated in a hospital and have "significantly recovered," but still need care before being discharged. That will allow for patients struggling with COVID-19 to be treated inside the hospital, as well as other patients dealing with strokes, heart attacks, accidents and other emergency conditions.

As of Sunday, the number of coronavirus hospitalizations in the county was at 609. From April through the beginning of June, that number hovered below 175.
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