Medical personnel are scheduled to begin arriving Monday to staff the newly completed field hospital at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio, with patients expected to soon follow.
Members of the California National Guard converted two existing buildings on the property into a 125-bed temporary hospital to be staffed by 30 to 40 doctors, nurses, technicians and volunteers.
County public health officials wanted the temporary hospital set up and treating non-critically ill patients — including those being treated for illnesses other than coronavirus — before an anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases hits beginning in mid-April and overwhelms the local hospital system.
“You want to have an empty hospital bed when you need it,” said Jose Arballo, spokesman for Riverside University Health System.
Once staff arrive, they are going to take some time to shift equipment around, take inventory of their supplies and get oriented to the new facility, according to Shane Reichardt, another agency spokesman, who said additional information, including when patients could start arriving, is expected to be released later in the day.
On Friday, county public health officials released new estimates indicating coronavirus cases in Riverside County will continue to grow — possibly doubling every four to five days — and deaths stemming from viral complications could rise 125 times the current figure in the next month.
RUHS Dr. Geoffrey Leung said the surge — which could kill 1,000 people and lead to 50,000 total cases by early May — is expected to use up all the county’s hospital beds by April 12, and gut the county’s supply of ventilators between April 22 and May 5.
Another temporary 125-bed hospital will soon be set up in western Riverside County, officials said. The location of that site may be released later Monday, Arballo said.
As of Monday morning, there were 233 confirmed COVID-19 cases and eight deaths associated with the disease in Riverside County.
Moreno Valley leads the way in cases with 23 cases, followed by Palm Springs at 22 and Riverside at 19.