S.E. Williams | Contributor
When Riverside County recorded 24 COVID-19 related deaths on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 it was the highest number of coronavirus deaths recorded in the county in a single day since the onset of the deadly pandemic, bringing the county’s death toll to 577.
Local hospitals are overwhelmed and ICU’S countywide have exceeded 98 percent capacity and local health care officials have now turned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for relief.
The county’s three-day average of hospitalizations reached 516 on Monday, compared to 368 just two weeks ago.
In response, a team of military healthcare professionals are being deployed and expected to arrive in the region on Thursday. The team will consist of active duty military doctors, critical care nurses, respiratory technicians, and physician assistants.
Bruce Barton, Director of the County of Riverside Emergency Management Department explained, “The federal support will provide much-needed assistance to Eisenhower at a time when the entire medical system deals with the rise in coronavirus cases.” Adding, “That assistance will make a difference for those who are being impacted by this virus that has taken so many lives.”
The military teams being deployed in Riverside County are being assigned—at least initially—to both Riverside County Hospital where nurses went on strike last month demanding additional resources as COVID-19 cases spiked.
Military support is also being deployed to assist at Eisenhower Health Hospital in Rancho Mirage. “The hospital is nearing capacity in our ICU and in our Covid-19 units,” shared Alan Williamson, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Eisenhower Health. “Currently, we only have three more ‘staffed’ beds available in the ICU. Additionally, we are approaching 80 percent of bed capacity within the hospital but are at virtually 100 percent of our staffing capacity.”
Expressing the facility’s appreciation for FEMA’s support he added, “We are grateful for the support from FEMA and its Air Force Medical response team. It comes at a critical time.”
Commenting on the FEMA support Riverside County Board Chair and Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez said, “I appreciate the emergency operations center team for pursuing this effort at the request of Eisenhower Health.” Noting, “These are crucial resources as we all work together at the federal, state and local levels of government to overcome this pandemic.”
Federal medical teams are also assisting other California counties. FEMA has committed one billion dollars in federal support to California.
S. E. Williams is managing editor for the IE Voice and Black Voice News.
Header photo courtesy of KESQ NewsChannel 3 YouTube channel