SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Imperial County hospitals this week have been forced to send dozens of COVID-19 patients to medical facilities in other Southern California counties.
Imperial County is located in the southeast corner of California bordering the state of Arizona.
In a video posted on Facebook, Adolphe Edward, CEO of the El Centro Regional Medical Center, said his hospital is seeing an influx of coronavirus patients from Mexico — U.S. citizens living south of the border.
Due to overcrowding, 40 patients were ushered to hospitals in nearby counties last Tuesday. A spokesperson for Scripps Health in San Diego said it got at least five people and was expecting more.
Chris Herring, an administrator with Imperial County’s Emergency Medical Services, said hospitals “don’t have a lot of true data to quantify the impact of COVID-19 cases among U.S. residents coming from Mexico.”
“We have a lot of interaction both northbound and southbound everyday in our regular lives, so I think that is impacting our system,” Herring said. “I think it’s difficult to quantify and put an actual number to it, just given how our community lives.”
Herring pointed out more patients may be sent out of Imperial County and that the federal government has provided additional staff for local hospitals such as critical care nurses, medical surgical nurses and respiratory nurses.
The extra personnel is expected to provide assistance for at least two weeks while an 80-bed mobile medical station is also coming online and should be operational within a week at Imperial Valley College, Herring said.
Imperial County has fewer than 300 hospital beds to serve more than 180,000 residents. It also has the highest hospitalization rate for coronavirus patients in California.
So far, more than 900 Imperial County residents have tested positive, 18 have died.