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COVID-19 Overwhelms Border ICUs | Kaiser Health News

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Even as most California hospitals have prevented an incapacitating surge in coronavirus sufferers, some amenities close to the Mexican border have been overwhelmed. They embrace El Centro Regional Medical Center in Imperial County and Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista in San Diego County, which hyperlink the spike in COVID-19 sufferers to their communities’ cross-border life-style.

Some U.S. residents and authorized residents who reside in Mexico are crossing the border from Tijuana and Mexicali into the U.S. for remedy. Dr. Juan Tovar, an emergency doctor and chief operations government for Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista, stated 48% of COVID-positive sufferers who visited the emergency room between May 24 and May 30 stated that they had just lately traveled to Mexico. That determine jumped to 60% between May 31 and June 2. The hospital is about 10 miles from the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the busiest land border crossing within the Western Hemisphere.

Only about 5% of COVID-19 sufferers reported they’d just lately been to Mexico at Scripps’ three different emergency rooms farther north, he stated.

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“We are now transferring COVID-19 patients out of Chula Vista to other Scripps hospitals farther north on a fairly regular basis — 21 over the last week — to help decompress our hospital here,” Tovar stated.

About two hours east, El Centro Regional Medical Center was so overwhelmed by COVID-19 sufferers it needed to divert some to well being care amenities in San Diego, National City and elsewhere. There have been greater than 2,025 confirmed cases in Imperial County, which has the highest COVID-19 hospitalization rate within the state, stated Andrea Bowers, particular tasks coordinator for the county well being division.

“We know that our community has family on both sides of the border, so we’re relating the uptick to Mother’s Day weekend,” stated Suzanne Martinez, assistant chief nursing officer on the medical middle. “That means more risk as people travel back and forth over the border.”

KHN’s Heidi de Marco visited the intensive care items at each hospitals and documented the efforts to maintain sufferers alive.

Patients suspected of getting COVID-19 are screened inside a makeshift triage middle outdoors El Centro Regional Medical Center in El Centro, California. The hospital is attempting to maintain sufferers who don’t require acute care out of the hospital to restrict unfold.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Nurse Brianna Mendoza wheels a affected person with coronavirus signs into the triage tent on May 28, 2020. “I’ve had a few people saying that they have had to cross the border to come here” as a result of they like to get care within the U.S., Mendoza says.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Sylvia Cervantes, a medical assistant, assesses a affected person who might need COVID-19. Cervantes normally works within the oncology division however was assigned to assist in the triage tent.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

A well being care employee prepares to deal with a COVID-19 affected person on the medical-surgical flooring. On May 28, the hospital had 41 coronavirus sufferers.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

A registered nurse sporting protecting gear treats a COVID-19 affected person within the intensive care unit. Ten beds within the hospital’s 12-bed ICU had been stuffed with coronavirus sufferers.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Health care employees should put on a particular respirator, a robe and gloves earlier than coming into a COVID-19 affected person’s room.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Hospital workers members tending to COVID-19 sufferers should placed on full-body protecting fits to enter an isolation room within the emergency division.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

El Centro Regional Medical Center is about 20 minutes north of Calexico, California, an ordinarily bustling border city with road retailers and meals distributors. But in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the streets are quiet and almost empty.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

People make their option to Mexicali, Mexico, by way of the border crossing at Calexico. According to the U.S. Department of State, about 1.5 million U.S. residents reside in Mexico. In the Mexican state of Baja California, there are greater than 5,380 confirmed coronavirus circumstances. Mexicali, the capital, has at the very least 2,630, greater than every other metropolis within the state.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Paloma Garza-Johnson is a registered nurse at Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Garza-Johnson dons her private protecting gear within the hallway outdoors an ICU affected person’s room on May 29.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

ICU staffers generally talk with each other by way of the home windows utilizing a whiteboard.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Registered nurse Christina Campolongo (left), licensed nursing assistant Vanessa Aquino and registered nurse Paloma Garza-Johnson flip a sedated coronavirus affected person into the inclined place, face down, which can enable extra oxygen into the affected person’s lungs.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

The Rev. Mark Weber, coordinator of chaplaincy providers at Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista (left), and the Rev. Emmanuel Ochigbo, a chaplain, pray outdoors a coronavirus affected person’s room earlier than performing the sacrament of therapeutic.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Ochigbo wets his finger with oil earlier than coming into the room to anoint the affected person.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Ochigbo administers the sacrament of therapeutic. The Anointing of the Sick is given to significantly ailing and dying folks. Ochigbo has modified it for COVID-19 sufferers, making use of oil solely to the brow and toes.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

This KHN story first revealed on California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.

Heidi de Marco: heidid@kff.org”>heidid@kff.org, @Heidi_deMarco

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