The field units, which are made up of tent-like materials, are licensed to treat up to 40 patients outside the main hospital.
There were 22 patients occupying the new units Dec. 30, UCI Medical Center spokesman John Murray told The Epoch Times.
Field hospitals are designed to lessen the burden on a health center’s main building during times of high occupancy, due to capacity restrictions. Some overcrowded hospitals without mobile units have even been forced to treat patients in hallways.
While the new units are said to be high quality, they can’t do everything a normal hospital room can do, and aren’t meant for intensive care unit (ICU) patients.
“I think there’s been a misunderstanding…about the level of care that can be provided in the tents,” Murray said. “These are not ICU-level units. Our current objective is to relieve pressure on the emergency department and our inpatient units.
“These beds are primarily being used now for patients who are either awaiting a bed…or who are about to be discharged from the inpatient hospital, but don’t need that high level of care, and can go into the tent for a day or overnight and be discharged. We call it the acuity level, so patients that have a critical need are not going to be in this unit.”
Field hospitals have been popping up in the county as it continues to experience record-setting coronavirus hospitalizations.
According to the OC Health Care Association, there were 2,145 people hospitalized with the disease, with 479 of them in intensive care on Dec. 30. There were 27 COVID-19 deaths reported in the county the same day.
The UCI Medical Center also has a single tent located in a nearby parking lot to help with emergency room overflow.
It’s not known how long the tents will remain.
It took less than 10 days for the medical center to clear and grade the site, erect the tent, move clinical equipment inside, and get licensing by the California Department of Public Health, according to Murray.