‘The Situation Is Dire’: Riverside County Hospitals Filling Up

Hospitals are converting space into critical care areas to accommodate ICU overflow. Photo courtesy of Riverside.ca.us

Riverside, CA

Hospital officials Tuesday pleaded with the public to follow precautions against the coronavirus as cases surge and staffing and space at local hospitals dwindle to dangerous levels.

Kaiser Permanente’s Riverside and Moreno Valley medical centers reported that their intensive care units are at capacity and they have had to convert conference rooms, waiting rooms and other areas of the hospitals into patient care areas as part of their surge plan.

The facilities are treating a combined 211 COVID-19 patients, officials said.

At Riverside Community Hospital — where officials said 214 COVID-19 patients are currently admitted — a former cafeteria was converted last weekend as alternative care space to handle the surge of patients who are waiting in the emergency department for a hospital bed.

The California National Guard deployed nine members of its medical corps to help the hospital’s emergency department and six nurses to help the ICU, but officials said the hospital remains short staffed, with an ICU that is completely full.

Officials at Riverside University Health System-Medical Center said the facility was implementing a surge plan and that its ICU was over capacity, with beds in other parts of the hospital filling up fast.

“The situation is dire and we are urging people to stay safe by staying home, wearing a mask and practice social distancing,” said Antonio Castelan, a spokesperson for the hospitals. “We understand how tired everyone is of this pandemic and we are urging people to continue doing the safe thing for a few months longer until the vaccine is available to the general public.”

As of Monday, coronavirus hospitalizations countywide numbered 1,367, up 40 from Thursday, according to RUHS. That includes 282 intensive care unit patients, 27 more than last week.

That number of people with COVID-19 in intensive care units is up 151% since Nov. 27.

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