LODI (CBS13) — San Joaquin County faces an ICU overcapacity crisis at all of its hospitals, according to the county health officer.
Two federal medical teams are deployed in the county to help with staffing shortages. Officials say there are not enough doctors and nurses to treat a surge of people coming in. More than half of the patients currently admitted have COVID-19, according to data from the county Office of Emergency Services.
“Anyone who needs an ICU bed might not be able to find one here,” said Dr. Maggie Park, the San Joaquin County Health Officer.
Park said people shouldn’t be afraid to seek ER treatment. Local hospitals are treading water amid this surge, only as long as the situation doesn’t get worse.
“Even if we can expand the number of beds, and we have the ventilators on hand, we don’t have enough staffing in our hospitals to really surge much more than we’re at right now,” Dr. Park said.
That’s why the county requested help from the federal government. The Department of Defense has deployed two medical teams, one to Lodi Memorial hospital and the other to Dameron Hospital in Stockton. But Dr. Park expects that to be it.
The county avoided asking the state for help altogether. Months ago Governor Newsom created the California Health Corps. He touted it as a breakthrough tool during possible hospital staff shortages and said that tens of thousands had signed on.
“Having the physical assets in place already and having this workgroup that we’re still vetting will provide an important resource for us if that personnel is needed,” Newsom said during a press conference on May 1st.
The help was needed this week in San Joaquin County, however, the program has failed to attract enough doctors and nurses with the proper credentials. According to data obtained by the Associated Press, just 5% of those who initially volunteered were approved to participate.
“I think the mission and the purpose was great, but I did hear that many people who signed up were not actually licensed as physicians or nurses,” Dr. Park said.
She said it’s up to the San Joaquin community to get this surge under control.
“We’ve flattened the curve before in the county, and we can do it again,” Park said.