Kaiser Permanente provides additional patient beds to state in COVID surge response

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated that Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center had modified its behavioral hospital to accommodate additional patients. The story has been updated with the correct information.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — In the early days of the pandemic, the state used hospital ships and the Sleep Train Arena as surge centers, with some spaces dedicated to treating overcrowded COVID-19 patients while others were reserved for people with diverse health needs.

The recent spike in coronavirus cases due to the Omicron variant means the state is once again scrambling to find additional capacity to serve Californians.

Kaiser Permanente normally only uses its facilities for member patients, but a new partnership with California will make some beds accessible to anyone with insurance.

“In a hospital there is always damage control when thinking about ‘what if’ situations. If we have an increasing need, how can we meet that need?” explained Dr. Matthew Eldridge, chief of infectious diseases at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. “This room had a pre-existing purpose, but obviously with the flood of cases and with the cooperation of the state, we were able to repurpose it to meet the needs of our situation today.”

Nearly 87,000 Californians are diagnosed with COVID-19 every day.

That means all the space available for their treatment in hospitals across the state is at a premium, leaving little room for those who don’t have COVID-19 but still need care.

Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center has transformed some clinical and rehabilitation spaces into a facility that can treat patients immediately without differing from the characteristics of a traditional medical unit.

California’s part in this treatment room expansion is to provide additional staff to care for the patients who will fill the new beds.

“In just under two weeks, we added over 60 beds to give back to the community so we can take care of our community during this surge,” said Trish Rodriguez, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center.

The surge regulation is operational, but it is temporary and will only last until the COVID-19 case crisis subsides.

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