By Collin Breaux and Shawn Raymundo

Like other health care facilities across the globe, Mission Hospital in South Orange County is facing a new world under the coronavirus pandemic.

The facility says it’s prepared to deal with coronavirus, but it realizes the unique challenges the pandemic poses. Mission Hospital said in a statement that while it routinely trains for emergencies, “the scope of this outbreak is an enormous challenge for health care.”

Mission Hospital declined to comment on specific information regarding coronavirus testing or positive tests for patients, as patient privacy is a priority. Information will be reported to the appropriate health agency if patients test positive.

“We are urging the public to heed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home directive, as well as common-sense hygiene practices,” the Mission Hospital statement said. “We have set up temporary facilities outside our emergency departments to screen patients away from the general hospital population. We are urging people with mild symptoms to stay home and self-quarantine for two weeks.”

Mission Hospital also recommends clients use its Providence Express Care Virtual system for an online visit with a nurse practitioner who can screen, assess, prescribe, chart and advise next steps.

“We are working with our experts and other stakeholders to ensure supplies of personal protection equipment and as well as equipment necessary for patient care,” the Mission Hospital statement said. “We will have great challenges in providing the level of care that will be needed in the coming weeks and perhaps months if the community does not cooperate with required and recommended safety measures.”

To address the overflow of patients that hospitals have seen during the pandemic, the state of California has been considering utilizing unused facilities to care for those who have contracted the disease, according to Orange County Board Supervisor Lisa Bartlett.

“As of right now, the State is looking at all options to care for COVID-19 patients,” Bartlett said in an email to San Clemente Times. “While we have no information on exactly where the State will be deciding to isolate those patients, I will continue to work with the Governor’s office and our local elected officials to secure appropriate care and safety for our residents.”

Asked whether the shuttered hospital in San Clemente was on the list of potential sites the state is considering, Bartlett’s office was unable to confirm or deny.

San Clemente Mayor Dan Bane touched on that subject during a recent city council meeting, where he noted that several residents have asked if the city was considering reopening the site of the former Saddleback Memorial Medical Center.

“We’ve been talking with county health, which is the lead regarding that,” Bane said at the March 17 meeting. “It’s not as though we can sort of snap our fingers as a city and sort of reopen the hospital. We’re working with the appropriate authorities to see if that’s a possibility.”

As of this posting, the city had not responded to a request seeking additional comment on the matter.

SR_1Shawn Raymundo
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.

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