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San Diego County and Palomar Medical Center Escondido create federal medical station

The hospital is ready, but will only be activated if need be.

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — A 202-bed field hospital is being set up at Palomar Medical Center. The extra beds will increase the region's ability to cope with a surge of COVID- 19 patients and will be set up on the vacant 10th and 11th floors of the Escondido hospital.

San Diego County requested this hospital to be set up back in March. The California Department Public Health approved the project after a site assessment by the Army Corp of Engineers in early April. 

The equipment was installed on April 21. 

"The hospital is ready now to be operational, but will be activated only if needed," said Tim McClain, a public affairs coordinator for the county.  "At this time, the response of San Diego residents to stay home, physical distancing and other public health orders and requests is bending the curve and has prevented the type of surge seen elsewhere.

According to the county, a Federal Medical Station (FMS) has the following capabilities:

  • Provide services in the capacity of an Alternate Care Facility (ACF) or a low acuity health care resource.
  • Can support quarantine operations and serve as a short-term casualty collection point.
  • Though the FMS has many attributes, it is not a standalone system. All FMS require an identified building and site support from the state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) jurisdiction.
  • At a minimum, an FMS assessment team must be able to validate uninterrupted power, potable water, food services, heat and air conditioning, and local wrap around service support to establish initial operating capabilities. 
  • FMS sets and pharmacy caches are strategically located throughout the continental United States to facilitate rapid deployment. San Diego’s FMS was assembled from supplies in Fresno and Los Angeles County.
  • There is a Strike Team whose primary mission is to provide technical assistance to assigned volunteers and clinical staff in the setup of one or multiple FMS's.

RELATED: Palomar Health nurses and health care workers speak out on layoffs in San Diego

RELATED: Federal field hospital planned for Escondido in fight against coronavirus

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