Work has begun on transforming the Cal Poly Recreation Center into an alternative care site for coronavirus patients.

The facility will house patients who are too sick to recover at home, but not sick enough to need hospital care, County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said at a press conference March 30.

The Cal Poly Recreation Center will open as an alternative care site for coronavirus patients on April 8, according to Emergency Services Director Wade Horton. 

The site will be stocked with nasal cannulas (deliver oxygen through the nose), oxygen masks and IV’s, but will not have ventilators. Patients who need ventilators will be sent to the hospital, Borenstein said. 

The care site will hold up to 931 beds, but will accept patients in phases. 

County of San Luis Obispo | Courtesy

On April 8, the care site will have enough medical staff to care for 165 patients. If more patients need care, the facility will expand to use more beds and hire more medical staff, Horton said. 

The county is in the process of installing oxygen lines in the Recreation Center. In addition, the county will establish laundry, food and security contracts for the facility, according to Horton. 

Cal Poly students, faculty and staff will not be in the facility while COVID-19 patients are present — with the potential exception of limited essential trade workers to service the facility in the unlikely event of an infrastructure emergency, University Spokesperson Matt Lazier wrote in an email to Mustang News. Any individual trade workers uncomfortable with servicing the building would not be required to do so.

About 200 people have signed up for the San Luis Obispo Medical Reserve Corps so far, and the county is reviewing their applications to select medical volunteers for the alternative care site, according to Horton. 

There are now 77 total confirmed cases of coronavirus in San Luis Obispo County, according to County Public Health.

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