County Readies Alternate Sites in Advance of Hospitalization Surge

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– Responding to recent spikes in positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, San Bernardino County is bringing back Alternate Care Sites (ACS) to handle possible hospital overload while ensuring those who need medical care are able to receive it.

An initial ACS has been set up in Parking Lot 14 at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) in Colton and is being referred to as the ACS Village. It is comprised of a nursing unit, patient care areas with 32 beds, an Isolation Pod, and a command center for staff breaks. The County is currently investigating additional potential sites near other County medical facilities.

“Our previous peak in hospitalizations was in early April, but we’ve recently experienced a significant increase in patients, including a doubling of our hospitalization rate over the past 30 days,” said Dr. Troy Pennington, an emergency room physician at ARMC. “Many of our hospitals are nearing the point of using beds beyond their normal licensed capacity.”

While County hospitals are currently able to handle the increased demand, the Alternate Care Sites are being established to handle potential surges in cases, allowing hospitals to focus resources on those patients with the most serious needs.

“We developed the Alternate Care Sites (ACS) under the authority of the County of San Bernardino and the Board of Supervisors. Locally, the ACS will be operated by ARMC and provide medical care 24/7. Any surge will first be handled within hospital areas, but ACS Village provides an opportunity to care for patients should our hospital fill up,” said ARMC Hospital Director, William Gilbert. “We are grateful to all of the County partners, physicians, nurses and other health care providers who have helped make this happen.”

ACS patients whose conditions worsen will be transferred back to a hospital. Dr. Pennington noted, however, that each ACS is equipped to handle the vast majority of patient needs and is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We will devote the Alternate Care Sites to patients who have already been treated in a hospital and have significantly recovered, yet still require some care before returning home,” Dr. Pennington said. “That will free up beds and other resources for more severely affected COVID-19 patients, as well as people suffering from strokes, heart attacks, accidents and other emergency conditions.”

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