RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. – Riverside County is making plans and backup plans to deal with COVID-19.
Registered nurse Dolores Franks used to work at an indoor clinic. Now she’s in a parking lot Tuesday through Saturday, helping test people for coronavirus.
“We’re all being tapped to do things maybe outside of what we normally do, but certainly within our scope of practice,” said Franks.
Most of the people Franks tests don’t have any symptoms, but are worried about being exposed to a rising number of positive cases.
As hundreds of people drive through each day it’s a chance to educate. Franks reminds people to wear masks and avoid crowds. Just a little prevention could take a lot of pressure off local hospitals.
“Our state is in trouble. We have a lot of high positivity and so more and more are wanting to be tested,” said Franks.
Intensive Care Unit capacity is in the 90th percentile for Riverside County. At the same time 70 percent of all Riverside County hospital beds are being used right now.
Just like the county is strategically moving medical staff around, there’s some maneuvering they can do before the hospitals are completely overrun. For starters, they can double their ICU beds by converting regular hospital beds.
While elective surgeries resumed, each hospital can choose to stop and free up more resources.
If that’s not enough, inside the empty Riverside Sears building and another spot in Indio, equipment is ready to go to care for patients. Personnel would have to be pulled from hospitals to staff these locations.
The increase in cases is worrisome.
“While COVID-19 is having an impact on our health system it’s not having an overwhelming impact,” said Jose Arballo, a spokesman for the County of Riverside’s Department of Public Health.
Arballo says only 30 percent of ICU beds in Riverside County are being used by COVID-19 positive patients.