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Mobile Field Hospitals Help Overloaded OC Hospitals Deal With COVID-19 Surge

ORANGE (CBSLA) -- A new mobile hospital has taken over the parking lot at UCI Medical Center in Orange.

In its second day of operation, doctors say the unit is getting busy — just as was intended.

"I like to think of the mobile field hospital as something we did in a proactive way to get ahead of us ever having to shut down," said Dr. Sebastian Schubl, a trauma surgeon who runs the field hospital. "We can't stop being the only level one trauma center."

So far, Dr. Schubl said the feedback about the mobile unit has been good. The state has licensed UCI to  add 40 beds to the mobile field hospital to help with the hospital surge.

"Our beds and our ICUs are normally very very full," said UCI Health CEO Chad Lefteris. "This is somewhat normal for us, but we're also making sure we're planning for worst and hoping for the best as we go forward."

Hospital officials said months of preparation has gone into insuring that the facility has adequate staff and supplies to continue at this pace. The patients brought to the field unit are those who do not require constant care or those who are set to be discharged.

Doctors said the tents couldn't have come at a better time.

On Wednesday, the county reported an additional 4,514 cases of the virus, bringing the cumulative total to 156,573. Another 27 fatalities were also reported, raising the death toll to 1,874.

As of Wednesday, 2,145 patients are currently hospitalized, including 479 in ICUs.

"Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years holidays has made us all very nervous," said Dr. Schubl."We've seen a rise since Christmas and expect to see another one after New Years Eve."

The tents are expected to remain for at least a few months.

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