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Gov. Newsom says state now has more than 4,600 additional beds at alternative care sites, shuttered hospitals


FILE — In this March 12, 2020 file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks to reporters about the state’s response to the coronavirus during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. Newsom, a Democrat who leads the nation’s most populous state, has won praise from both sides of the aisle for his approach to the coronavirus crisis though he’s been less aggressive than some other governors and local leaders. Newsom is accompanied by California Department of Public Heath Director and State Health Officer Dr Sonia Angell, left, and California Health and Human Services Agency Director Dr. Mark Ghaly, right. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

SACRAMENTO (KGET) – Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Monday that the state has secured up to 4,613 additional beds at alternate care sites and shuttered hospitals to care for an anticipated surge in COVID-19 patients.

Newsom said the state has aggressively planned for a surge in hospitalizations in the coming weeks and aims to add 50,000 beds to its existing hospital capacity of nearly 75,000 beds. At least 60 percent of those additional beds, or 30,000, will come from within existing hospitals, and the state will secure the remaining beds, up to 20,000. 

“California has been working closely with hospitals to aggressively expand our state’s ability to treat the coming surge in COVID-19 patients. As a result, California is adding tens of thousands more hospital beds, sourcing and distributing lifesaving medical supplies and ventilators, and significantly expanding our health care workforce,” Newsom said. “This is an all hands on deck effort, and I am extremely grateful to all of our partners in the medical community, the private sector and across government for helping us get this far. All of these efforts will only pay off if we continue to slow the spread of the virus. Staying home will save lives.”

The former Sleep Train Arena, now known as Natomas Arena, in Sacramento is one of several alternate care sites that will provide care for less sick patients, thus allowing hospitals to focus their resources on those with the most acute needs, the state said.

The state’s alternate care sites to date include:

  • Eight federal medical stations operating or being set up across the state, each with a maximum of 250 beds
  • The former Sleep Train Arena, which has a maximum capacity of 400 beds 
  • Fairview Developmental Center, with a maximum capacity of 520 beds
  • Porterville Developmental Center, with a maximum capacity of 246 beds
  • San Carlos Hotel, with a maximum capacity of 120 beds
  • CPMC – Pacific Campus, with a maximum capacity of 291 beds

Alternate care sites will be staffed using a number of resources, including the newly established California Health Corps, according to the state.

The Health Corps is made up of health care providers, behavioral health professionals, and health care administrators who sign up to work at alternate care sites. Newsom said they will add to the existing state health care workforce with underutilized and underemployed professionals, and with qualified student, retiree, and out-of-state health care providers. 

In addition, the state has leased two hospitals and received a naval medical ship from the federal government as surge facilities:

  • Seton Medical Center in Daly City, which has a maximum capacity of 220 beds
  • St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles, which has a maximum capacity of 266 beds
  • USNS Mercy, which has an easily-accessible maximum capacity of up to 550 beds. (Note: USNS Mercy has a capacity of 1,000 bunk beds).

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