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San Bernardino County Hospitals Prepare for 'Crisis Care' Mode

Arrowhead Regional Medical Center/TWITTER

San Bernardino County health officials told the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday that area hospitals are preparing to enter "crisis care" mode.

Arrowhead Regional Medical Center Hospital Director, Bill Gilbert, told the board this means staff will have to look at demand versus resources.

"Basically, the message to our staff, respectively, is do more with less," said Gilbert. "We expect that there will be another surge in the next few weeks, and we are seeing that already in our emergency rooms.”

ICU capacity across the Southern California region remains at zero percent, and Gilbert said staffing is the most critical factor in intensive care capacity for the county.

“Essentially, the hospitals are overwhelmed," said Gilbert. "Right now, all hospitals have activated their surge plans. On paper, it looks as if we have 500 vacant beds throughout the county. In fact, because of staffing, we’ve only been able to use about 20 percent of those beds.”

One of the strains on staffing, is the 5,572 county healthcare workers who have tested positive for the virus as of January 4. With quarantine protocols of 10 days, “It’s almost as if, as soon as we get more staff in, there’s staff that leaves," said Gilbert.

San Bernardino County is receiving outside help with staffing. The state recently sent 25 nurses, and the Department of Defense sent 17 Army and Air Force medical personnel that arrived at Arrowhead Regional last week. According to Gilbert, while the county originally requested 280 personnel, due to staffing shortages nationwide, they are not expecting additional help.