Federal, state and local emergency coordinators toured the Santa Clara Convention Center to figure out how to start converting it into one of eight statewide medical centers that will deal with non-coronavirus patients.
The 302,000 square-foot facility would also serve non-trauma cases, all in an effort to prevent hospitals from getting overrun by patients as the number of COVID-19 cases grows.
“Actually had a swollen tonsil the other day,” said Sunnyvale resident Diego Maldonado. “I mean, no symptoms of coronavirus, but I was scared to go to the hospital because I know I'm going in there, I could contract something else.”
The federally-led effort is a response to scenes of overwhelmed medical facilities in China, Italy and New York.
“Once this is operational, it will allow us to care for subacute patients,” said Michael Clark, County EOC Chief. “Those with lower acute pain here, which will then allow the hospitals in our area to care for the higher acute patients.”
The county will have to figure out how to transport patients from the 11 South Bay hospitals to the new sites, but other than that, they are self-contained.
“This is a hospital in a box. These are not taking any of our employees,” said Cindy Chavez, Board of Supervisors president. “They’re not taking away resources that we’ve been looking for like masks, or anything else. They’re really coming with their own supplies.”
There is no timetable yet for the conversion but Supervisor Chavez said it will be as soon as possible because once that’s started, the hospitals can start focusing on treating coronavirus patients.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Maldonado. “Having an area where it’s not so clustered with patients that have coronavirus is really going to help.”