Fresno County doctors fearful of COVID cases after Christmas holiday

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County health officials say what they are experiencing right now is unlike anything they've ever witnessed in our local healthcare system.

"We have turned auditoriums and offices into patient care spaces," says Dr. Anneli Von Reinhart. "We have expanded and expanded and stretched and stretched, and we are now at a breaking point."

But more patients with and without the coronavirus continue to overwhelm emergency rooms.

Dr. Rais Vohra with the Department of Public Health says the surge is impacting every aspect of the healthcare system -- from vital equipment, to the mental health of staff.

"There are space issues, staffing issues, supply issues and there is what I like to call sanity issues, meaning staff burnout and fatigue," he said.

One of the toughest challenges is finding and making space to treat the most critically ill patients.

This has triggered Community Regional Medical Center to open a 50-bed alternate care site at their North Plaza in Downtown Fresno.

By midweek, they had reached half capacity.

Emergency Medical Services Director Dan Lynch says once 45 beds are filled, then the alternate care site at the Fresno Convention Center will open.

"At that point, we will start staffing the alternate care site," he said.

Backup is also on the way for CRMC.

An Air Force team with the Department of Defense is expected to touch down in Fresno on New Year's Eve.

Lynch says this could help create an additional 10 beds.

"The team is about 10 to 12 people, most of those are ICU-trained individuals," he said.

To further boost ICU beds, the Fresno City Council could vote on an emergency proposal that would further reduce store capacity and increase sanitation practices.

The council is expected to vote on the proposal when ICU beds reach zero in the county.

They expect this to happen next week.
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