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SLO County looking for volunteers to expand medical reserve corps to help treat potential surge in coronavirus patients

SLO County Coronavirus
SLO County is preparing to dramatically increase staffing should there be a significant rise in people needing care who are battling coronavirus.

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- San Luis Obispo County is preparing to dramatically increase staffing should there be a significant rise in people needing care who are battling coronavirus.

At Wednesday's county COVID-19 response press conference, SLO County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein said the medical reserve corps needs to be heavily expanded.

"We are concerned that the medical staffing, and all the ancillary staffing, may be our limiting factor in taking care of folks that need a level of care outside of their home," said Dr. Borenstein. "The plan is that the hospitals themselves will surge, and add as much in the way of hospital acute beds as they can, but should we begin to see overflow, that is where we intend to put patients, who need some level of medical care, but less so than certainly in an intensive care unit and even in the hospital."

The patients that are directed towards the alternate care site would go to Cal Poly's Recreation Center.

San Luis Obispo County Adminstrative Officer and Emergency Services Director Wade Horton acknowledged the on-campus facility has been slated to serve as county's alternate care site.

"What we're looking at is using the shell of the Rec Center to create really a field-type hospital," said Horton.

The county emphasizes the alternate care site will only be created should the need arise.

"We will not put anyone into force until the need is there, but we want to have assurance that we will be able to staff this very important alternate care site should it come to that situation," said Dr. Borenstein.

If the Recreation Center is activated, an extensive amount of workers would need to staff it, which is why Dr. Borenstein put out a plea to the community on Wednesday.

"We are looking for is as many people as possible," said Dr Borenstein. "Physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, license therapists, social workers, certified addiction providers, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, dentists and veterinarians are absolutely welcome to join, t pharmacists respiratory therapists, physical and occupational therapists and any community member without medical training who is available to help with sign language interpretation and any form of administration so as you can here we are basically looking for you."

Depending on the need, the Recreation Center could hold between 400-700 beds.

"We conducted as site assessment Tuesday," said Horton. "There was a team on site today. Our goal is to begin actual site improvements next week."

He added extra power sources would need to be created, a means to supply oxygen, plus a receiving and staging center.

People that are interested will need to fill out a profile and sign up at healthcarevolunteers.ca.gov.

They will also need to email the San Luis Obispo County medical corps coordinator at slomrc@gmail.com.

California / Community / Health / Safety / San Luis Obispo County / What's Right

Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at KCOY|KEYT|KKFX.