IMPERIAL — The Imperial County Public Health department started setting up a Federal Medical Station (FMS) at the Imperial Valley College gymnasium Friday, May 22, in response to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the Imperial County. The FMS officially opened Monday, May 25.
The FMS will have 80 beds and staff provided by the California National Guard and the California Medical Assistance Team (CAL-MAT). Patients sent to the FMS will be low risk COVID-19 cases transferred from local hospitals that are close to discharge. The station will not be available for public access.
County Health Officer Stephen Munday said, “I am happy to see how quickly our staff was able to coordinate the efforts to bring the FMS to our community and make use of this asset. This is another important step to ensure that local residents have access to the care that they need. We are grateful to Dr. Garcia and the staff at IVC for working with the County in such a quick and efficient manner.”
In April the ICPHD discussed establishing an FMS due to the steadily increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the County. The IVC gymnasium was chosen as the site due to its proximity in the County and good access to logistic support. The college is already an official county designated emergency shelter for the public, according to Superintendent and President of Imperial Valley College Dr. Martha Garcia. The facility will be operated jointly by the State of California and the County of Imperial.
While most classes have moved online, some programs remain active on the IVC campus. These programs are the Child Development Practicum course, Emergency Medical Services, Nursing, and the Police and Fire Academies, according to Elizabeth Espinoza, IVC Interim Communications and Governmental Relations officer. Garcia said these programs have been informed of the situation and will continue to hold class.
In the event there is a positive COVID-19 case among students and faculty and if the lives of those on campus are in jeopardy, the campus will be closed and classes canceled, according to Garcia.
All staff and students on campus have been informed of the incoming FMS and have been assured their safety. Unauthorized individuals will not be allowed in the FMS designated area near the gymnasium. FMS staff is to remain within the confines of the medical station.
Garcia said it is the college’s responsibility to the Imperial Valley community to help support efforts such as the FMS and is grateful for the IVC Board of Trustees that helped make it happen.
“We are here to support the community in every aspect that we can, and we need to recognize that we need to work collectively in order to better serve our community in this matter, especially under the current circumstances,” said Garcia. “I take this responsibility very seriously and I recognize that under these circumstances we are making a contribution that we are able to make to this community and provide in our own way access to local healthcare for those who will need it.”
The FMS is projected to be open until June 22. There will be frequent evaluations to determine if the station will remain at IVC for a longer period.