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Madera Community Hospital was so inundated with ICU patients Monday night they had to put out a plea for help.

“We were successful in moving about five of those patients out of that facility,” Fresno County EMS Director Dan Lynch told reporters on a video call Tuesday afternoon.

Three patients were able to remain in the Fresno area. One had to be flown to Riverside, and the other is going to UC Davis in the Sacramento area.

“Our hospitals and our health department, we’re all gearing up for another battle.”Fresno County EMS Director Dan Lynch

Madera County did not have a single ICU bed available as of Monday.

State data shows Madera County has a 19% COVID-19 positivity rate, and 75.3 cases per every 100,000 residents.

There are 2,898 active COVID-19 cases, and currently 39 hospitalized patients.

Additional Staff

“Our hospitals and our health department, we’re all gearing up for another battle,” says Lynch.

To that end, he says the hospitals and EMS have all been getting more personnel in.

“The hospitals have all gotten state personnel in to assist in bolstering their their personnel and staffing in the hospitals,” said Lynch. “We’re ready to go to war again with this next surge.”

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly issued a bit of good news during a midday briefing.

Ghaly reported California’s “R effective” rate, a metric that indicates the spread of an infectious disease, is now below 1.0 statewide. “The spread of COVID is not growing in the state, but is decreasing,” says Ghaly.

However, Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra says that number needs to be viewed with caution.

“That average (R effective number) represents a lot of counties that are very dissimilar to Fresno in terms of their population, and in terms of their geography,” said Vohra. “Our hospitals continue to be very severely impacted. We’re still, unfortunately, accruing fatalities at a very tragic rate.”

Alternate Care Sites

Lynch says over the next few days additional staff will be added to the area’s two alternate care sites at Fresno’s downtown Community Hospital and in Porterville. The more highly trained staff will allow for the care of patients who are more acutely ill.

“If and when we do have that next surge, we have the ability to to take care of a higher level of acuity patient further decompressing those hospitals,” explains Lynch.

Both alternate care sites are currently at low capacity.

The Community Hospital site currently has 11 patients while the Porterville Developmental Center has 14 patients and room for 11 more.

Valley Children’s Hospital Ready to Help

Last week, Valley Children’s Hospital officials said they’ve been planning for the possibility of taking in patients up to 25-years-old since the first days of the pandemic.

Lynch says VCH wanted to step up and help Monday night when Madera Community Hospital asked for help. But, because of the complexity of one of the patient’s care needs, the transfer was not possible.

“This morning we spoke to them (VCH) and they made some adjustments,” explains Lynch. “So they’re going to be ready to help us with adult patients all the way up to (age) 25, and then even consider them even above that if we’re in an emergency.”

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