Two Alternate Care Facilities Ready for Patients

Beds at federal alternate care facility
Beds at the Federal Alternate Care Facility at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido

With positive cases of COVID-19 on the rise, the County of San Diego is continuing its preparations for a potential surge of patients requiring hospitalization. The County unveiled an alternate care facility at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido Thursday.

The 202-bed Federal Medical Station was established with the help of state and federal partners and occupies two formerly vacant floors of the hospital.

“This Federal Medical Station is the latest example of a regional asset that we hope never to use,” said Supervisor Kristin Gaspar, County Board of Supervisors. “Prevention and capacity building are key to this battle and the reopening of San Diego. We may not know exactly what the next few weeks may hold but as a region, San Diego County is prepared.”

The opening of the Federal Medical Station is a prime example of the successful coordination and collaboration between federal, state and local partners in the fight against COVID-19.

The County requested the Federal Medical Station in March as local COVID-19 cases started to increase. The California Department of Public Health processed and approved the project after the Army Corps of Engineers completed a site survey and confirmed the County’s request meets federal criteria.

The new alternate care facility in Escondido is coming online shortly after a similar resource became available at UC San Diego earlier this month. The 350-bed medical facility at the university was created within newly constructed student housing after the university ended in-person instruction due to the spread of the virus in the region.

The two sites will house patients who previously received treatment for COVID-19 at a local hospital and still need to be monitored for symptoms but no longer require a high level of care.

Combined, the two alternate care sites can house 552 patients in case traditional hospitals in the region run out of beds. Right now, hospitals in San Diego have not reached capacity and neither of the two alternate care facilities has been activated.

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Katie Cadiao is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact