A temporary field hospital in the Coachella Valley remained staffed but devoid of patients Wednesday, awaiting a pending surge in COVID-19 cases health officials say could fill up all intensive care unit beds by next week.
But officials from all three Coachella Valley hospitals told City News Service they still have space for most critical and non-critical patients, as well as surge plans in place if space runs out.
Officials want temporary hospitals like the 125-bed facility at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio set up to be treating non-critically ill patients — including those being treated for illnesses other than coronavirus. They have said they want to clear up space at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio and Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs for critical patients when the anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases hits.
Another 125-bed temporary hospital is slated to be set up in western Riverside County, but that location has not yet been identified.
Riverside County health officials released new projections Tuesday showing all currently set up ICU beds in the county could be full by April 14, with all regular beds set to follow suit by April 23.
Dr. Geoffrey Leung of the Riverside University Health System said Friday that the county remained on track to see 65,000 cases, 11,000 hospitalizations and 1,000 deaths by the beginning of May. He said that number of hospitalizations would be three to four times the capacity of the county’s hospital system.
As of data available Tuesday, both JFK Memorial and Desert Regional had room available for critical patients — 75% of the ICU beds are full at JFK Memorial, while Desert Regional was at 48%.
The hospitals have a combined total of 102 ICU beds, and 107 ventilators, along with surge plans to create 37 more ICU beds at JFK Memorial, according to Todd Burke, spokesman for Tenet Healthcare, which operates both hospitals.
Desert Regional, on the other hand, is already at capacity for its ICU beds, but has a surge plan in place for creating more regular beds if need be, Burke said.
In Rancho Mirage, Eisenhower Medical Center has a total of 403 beds available now and 141 patients as of Tuesday, hospital spokeswoman Lee Rice told City News Service, putting the hospital at 35% capacity. Rice said the hospital has 34 ICU beds.
Seventeen patients are currently being treated for COVID-19 at the hospital, Rice said, with 10 of them currently in the ICU. It was not immediately clear how many other ICU beds were filled up.
Like other area hospitals, Eisenhower Medical Center also has a surge plan in place. Rice said the hospital has the ability to expand to be able to care for 130 critical patients simultaneously.
“That’s a huge increase in critical care capacity in the past three weeks,” she said.
As of noon Wednesday, there were 1,016 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Riverside County, and 28 deaths due to complications associated with the disease.
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