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Coronavirus

Riverside Community Hospital converts several rooms into care areas amid surge

riv community hosp caferia
Cafeteria at Riverside Community Hospital

NOTE: Shane Reichardt of Riverside County's emergency management department issued a correction to the county's earlier note that there weren't any National Guard teams in Riverside County.

Reichardt said the National Guard team at Riverside Community Hospital was originally only supposed to be there for a 72 hour deployment. The county was not aware that they stayed longer and that was the reason for the confusion. They will be leaving on Thursday, Dec. 31.

We have updated the article to reflect this new information

Updated article below:

Hospital officials today pleaded with the public to follow precautions against the coronavirus as cases surge and staffing and space at local hospitals dwindle to dangerous levels.

Kaiser Permanente's Riverside and Moreno Valley medical centers reported that their intensive care units are at capacity and they have had to convert conference rooms, waiting rooms and other areas of the hospitals into patient care areas as part of their surge plan.

The hospital's cafeteria is now full of beds to care for patients

The facilities are treating a combined 211 COVID-19 patients, officials said.

At Riverside Community Hospital -- where officials said 214 COVID-19 patients are currently admitted -- a former cafeteria was converted last weekend as alternative care space to handle the surge of patients who are waiting in the emergency department for a hospital bed.

The California National Guard deployed nine members of its medical corps to help the hospital's emergency department and six nurses to help the ICU. According to the county, those teams were originally set for a 72-hour deployment but stayed longer, causing some confusion with the county. Officials told News Channel 3 that there were no National Guard teams in Riverside County, however, have since issued a correction. The National Guard teams are expected to leave on Thursday, Dec. 31.

Officials said the hospital remains short staffed, with an ICU that is completely full.

Officials at Riverside University Health System-Medical Center said the facility was implementing a surge plan and that its ICU was over capacity, with beds in other parts of the hospital filling up fast.

"The situation is dire and we are urging people to stay safe by staying home, wearing a mask and practice social distancing," said Antonio Castelan, a spokesperson for the hospitals. "We understand how tired everyone is of this pandemic and we are urging people to continue doing the safe thing for a few months longer until the vaccine is available to the general public."

As of Tuesday, coronavirus hospitalizations countywide numbered 1,448, up a record 81 from Monday, according to RUHS. That includes 287 intensive care unit patients, 5 more than Monday.

That number of people with COVID-19 in intensive care units is up 151% since Nov. 27.

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