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More Than 200 Community Medical Centers Staff Out Due to COVID-19



Aerial view of Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno, California
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Community Medical Centers is down 219 staff members as coronavirus cases continue to surge in Fresno County.

On Thursday, CMC’s website showed 40 staff members had the coronavirus. But by Friday, that same dashboard reported 104 had tested positive. In total, 219 members of the staff were in self-isolation.

(Editor’s note: This story has been corrected based on hospital reporting. The Community Medical Centers Dashboard breaks down self-isolation cases and COVID-19 positive cases. The self-isolation cases already include the COVID-19 positive cases.)

According to CMC’s website, the Fresno-based healthcare network has more than 8,600 clinical and non-clinical employees.

Meanwhile, the state COVID-19 dashboard shows Fresno County only has 7% of its 149 ICU beds available. That’s down from 16% a few days ago.

Dr. Mohamed Fayed from UCSF-Fresno is on the front lines and described the situation to reporters during a Friday Zoom call.

“It certainly has been tough,” he said

CRMC senior public relations strategist Mary Lisa Russell told GV Wire℠ by phone that fortunately she’s not heard of any staff deaths from COVID-19.

Military Medical Staff Help CRMC Out

Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno recently welcomed a 20-member team from Travis Air Force Base to help with staffing.

The team includes three physicians, two mid-level providers, two respiratory therapists, and 13 ICU registered nurses. They are assigned for 30 days.

Image of Maj. Gen. Michael Stone visting Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, California, and the military medical team deployed there to fight the coronavirus pandemic

Maj. Gen. Michael Stone paid a visit to CRMC to meet with his COVID-19 medical support team Sunday. (CRMC/Mary Lisa Russell)

Remdesivir Scare

CRMC doctors had to scramble for about 24 hours when they completely ran out of the potentially life-saving drug remdesivir.

Fortunately, a new shipment of 495 doses arrived Friday morning from the state. That was 65 fewer doses than they’d hoped for.

Dr. Fayed says each patient needs about six doses.

“I think we’re in much better shape than yesterday,” Fayed explained. The county had hoped to get a double batch of the drug.

“I think we’re in much better shape than yesterday.”Dr. Mohamed Fayed, UCSF-Fresno, on running out of remdesivir Thursday for COVID-19 patients

Convention Center

Meanwhile, the county is making plans to open the Fresno Convention Center for overflow patients as soon as next week.

Beds and chairs are all set up and ready to go as soon as the county determines it must open the Fresno Convention Center as an alternate care site.

“I can tell you that we’re getting closer,” says Fresno County EMS Director Daniel Lynch. “I would expect that we’re going to open up that alternate care site probably within the next week or two.”

“I would expect that we’re going to open up that alternate care site probably within the next week or two.”Fresno County EMS Director Daniel Lynch

Lynch says he has secured an agreement with staffing service AMI that has managed alternate care sites in San Mateo and New York. This will allow the county to staff the site without competing against hospitals for medical personnel to run it.

Hospital Staffing Issues

Two other valley hospitals are running very low on staff.

Saint Agnes and Madera Community Hospitals have both reached out to Fresno County for help.

Even though Madera Community is outside Fresno County, EMS Director Lynch says he’s prepared to help.

“Staffing is going to be the most challenging thing that we have to deal with,” said Lynch.

City-County COVID-19 Meeting on Tuesday

The county has invited the city officials to participate in a joint workshop Tuesday to discuss the county’s ongoing COVID-19 response.

“I think it’s going to lead to a lot of good discussions.”Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer

Fresno County interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra and health director David Pomaville are planning to attend.

The public workshop will provide a review of both agencies’ plans to spend CARES Act funds provided by the federal government in support of COVID-19 response actions. It is set for Tuesday, July 28, at 9 a.m. at the Fresno County Plaza Building ballroom.