Temporary Hospital Coming to Civic for Non-COVID Patients

Redding Civic Auditorium. Photo source: visit redding.com

The COVID-19 virus claimed its second Shasta County victim and work has started on a 125-bed field hospital inside the Redding Civic Auditorium, Shasta County Health and Human Services announced during Friday’s daily briefing.

The latest victim was a man in his 80s who tested positive for the coronavirus on March 29. He had been hospitalized in isolation and was believed to have been the first to be infected by the community and not through contact with a known case or related to travel.

As of Friday, 12 Shasta County residents had tested positive for the fast-spreading respiratory disease; another 402 residents have tested negative. Seven of the confirmed patients are in isolation and another 26 people are under quarantine.

The field hospital, a joint project of the National Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers, is one of eight being established in California. The temporary hospital is intended to provide overflow beds and treatment for non-COVID patients with “sub-acute” conditions. It will serve patients in a 13-county area.

Robert Folden, chief operating officer for Mercy Medical Center, said the Army Corps of Engineers chose the Civic site over Shasta College because of its proximity to Redding’s two main hospitals. Both Folden and Mark Mitchelson, the chief nursing officer at Shasta Regional Medical Center, said there are still an adequate number of beds in their respective hospitals.

Folden said Mercy fully supports the field hospital and said it will allow both hospitals to focus their resources on patients, including COVID-19 victims, who require critical care and/or isolation. “You can never have too much” capacity, Mitchelson said during Friday’s teleconference.

Karen Ramstrom, Shasta County’s health officer, said she welcomed the field hospital and called it a “wonderful asset.”

The field hospital, which is expected to be in place next week, will not interfere with the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, according to Aaron Tesauro, Bethel’s communications director. The school’s 2,300 students—representing 75 countries and all 50 states—have been studying online from home since March 16. A week earlier, Bethel cancelled all student missions and ministry trips through graduation in May.

“Public health officials in Shasta County suggested that we cancel all trips not deemed as essential travel. We appreciate and deeply value the efforts of our government leaders to do the best they can to lead with wisdom, as well as the positive impact that science and the medical community have on all of our lives. The leadership of these groups benefit all of us and we want to cooperate with their efforts,” said Dann Farrelly, the school’s dean, in a prepared statement.

Other updates from Friday’s briefing:

Testing—Shasta Health and Human Services spokeswoman Kerri Schuette said the Public Health lab has conducted 149 tests for the coronavirus and currently has no backlog of tests awaiting results. Tests administered by 11 a.m. are yielding same-day results; tests conducted later in the day will have results the following morning.

“Our lab is doing tremendous work in getting these out and we’re very proud of that,” Schuette said.

Privately operated labs, like Quest and Labcorp, have conducted 253 tests, Schuette said. Results from those tests are usually available in seven days. For more information on testing and answers to other coronavirus questions, visit www.shastaready.org

Masks—Updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control include the wearing of cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures can be tricky, such as grocery stores and pharmacies.

Recent studies indicate that “a significant portion” of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (shortness of breath, fever, a persistent dry cough) and can spread the virus to others in close proximity by speaking, coughing or sneezing. Previous CDC recommendations urged face coverings for people exhibiting symptoms.

Ramstrom emphasized that people should not use N-95 respirators or surgical masks; those need to be reserved for doctors and other health care workers. Also important: wearing a cloth face covering does not eliminate the need to maintain 6-foot social distancing.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.
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