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SLO County Alternative Care Site at Cal Poly set to open today 

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The Alternative Care Site at Cal Poly is a joint community effort by San Luis Obispo County, the medical community, and the private sector, to open a field hospital to handle overflow patients.

New medical facility opens at Cal Poly to care for COVID-19 patients

During a San Luis Obispo County COVID-19 briefing, Wade Horton, San Luis Obispo County Administrative Officer, announced the new Alternate Care Site (ACS) at Cal Poly Rec Center is ready to open with enough staff for a first wave of patients.

“The community has come together to be ready and that’s what opening the Alternative Care Site is all about,” said Horton. The center is the result of the county partnering with the medical community, Cal Poly and the private sector. “We are ready to take care of the community if needed, when the time comes.”

Before introducing Horton, County Public Health Director Dr. Penny Borenstein noted that the facility is ready but staffing continues to be a limiting step. “We believe we absolutely have enough staff to start with whatever the first wave of patients may be.”

The county is continuing to recruit members for the medical reserve corp to help in a range of health care capacities during the COVID-19 outbreak. Volunteers will be given malpractice insurance coverage and provided with personal protection equipment. Visit readyslo.org for more information.

In news release issued on Monday, Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) announced that he and Congressman Salud Carbajal (D-CA) visited the center Monday morning, “with appropriate social distancing.”

Cunningham said, “While it is my hope that we never have to use this facility, we will be prepared for a potential surge of COVID-19 cases. This ACS is an incredible example of public-private collaboration, with RRM Design Group, McCall Engineering, Trust Automation, and Thoma Electric leading the way in procurement and construction.

“I am proud of the SLO Public Health team for the work they’ve done to make sure our community is prepared. I am thankful for all the health workers that volunteered to staff this facility, and grateful to our local hospitals.”

Carbajal added, “We must continue taking every measure possible to curb the spread of coronavirus, but I am proud that we are also stepping up and being prepared in the event that coronavirus cases spike. The alternative care site at Cal Poly SLO has created a partnership among the County, Cal Poly and private companies that ensures our community is well-resourced with more than 900 beds, individual oxygen access and health care professionals who continue to go above and beyond for the Central Coast. I will keep working for more protective equipment, funding and health resources at the federal level and I am so thankful for the workers, officials and businesses who made this care site a reality.”

The Alternative Care Site is expected to open with 165 beds and be able to scale to 935 beds. It will be a facility to treat COVID-19 patients who do not need intensive care or ventilators, but oxygen therapy will be available at the site. Borenstein said that patients needing intensive care will be transferred from the ACS to local hospitals.


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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

Jackie Iddings is a contributing reporter and photographer for the Paso Robles Daily News.