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Scripps Health brings back outdoor hospital tents to accommodate for busy summer

The San Diego hospital system said it is busy overall with sick people, from people that have delayed care to coronavirus patients to people with mental illness.

ENCINITAS, Calif. — Once again, there are colorful tents outside of the Scripps Health emergency room in Encinitas. This comes as many people have questions and concerns about coronavirus cases nationwide, particularly the delta variant. However, these outdoor hospital beds are not exclusively because of COVID-19. 

If you know a nurse, chances are, they’re anything but bored. Scripps said overall, it’s busy with patients sick with a variety of different health issues, from chest pains to lung issues. Additionally, Doctor Ghazala Sharieff, Scripps Health Chief Medical Officer of Acute Care, said staff members have seen quite a few mental health patients. 

”We have five additional intensive care unit beds that we have available for patients,” said Dr. Sharieff. “We’re staffing all of them - you know - all the patients in house have a nurse available, but it’s additional capacity that we have.”

When it’s time for patients, hospitals need beds. These include COVID-19 patients. Sharieff said Scripps is treating 108 hospital patients at its locations for COVID-19 countywide as of Tuesday, August 3. Sharieff said that some of the current patients are vaccinated “breakthrough” cases, while others are not vaccinated. 

”So it’s a mix of patients,” said Sharieff. “Patients that we’re seeing that are vaccine breakthrough cases are in the older population typically, but there are people coming in that have not been vaccinated. It’s a range. We can get you the average age, but we’re seeing both extremes.”

Historically, according to San Diego County public health data, the most common underlying conditions associated with COVID-19 deaths are hypertension and diabetes. According to the CDC, about 80% of people hospitalized with coronavirus are overweight or obese. 

Scripps already utilized the outdoor tents last weekend to care for patients with various health issues. Additionally, Scripps said there are staffing challenges as hospitals across the country search for healthcare workers. Some healthcare workers are also taking summer vacations.

”We need everyone to help us out,” said Sharieff. “Please wear your masks, vaccinated or not because we are having a significant staffing issues. Not just at Scripps - at all of the hospitals.”

Local businesses ask people to wear a mask indoors again, as vaccination rates rise (August 2, 2021)