Former Sears in Riverside to be converted into county’s 2nd temporary hospital

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The former Sears building on Arlington Avenue in Riverside is seen in a Google Maps Street View image.

The former Sears building on Arlington Avenue in Riverside is seen in a Google Maps Street View image.

A vacant Sears building in Riverside will be converted into the county’s second temporary hospital to help ease the coronavirus’ strain on local facilities.

The 90,000-square-foot retail building on Arlington Avenue will provide 125 beds, in addition to the 250-bed facility set up last month at the Indio fairgrounds, according to Riverside County public health officials.

The temporary sites are being erected with supplies from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The county expects to run out of space in its hospitals “very soon,” said Second District Supervisor Karen Spiegel.

As of Thursday afternoon, 1,280 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed countywide, with 33 deaths.

A county projection released Tuesday shows intensive care units reaching full capacity on April 14, and hospitals running out of beds on April 23.

This week, California National Guard troops already deployed to Riverside County will set up a portion of the second federal medical station — which includes equipment needed to run a hospital such as beds, medications and protective equipment.

The second floor of the former department store will house the medical facility, with two separate stations that will cater to less acute patients, officials said.

“There will be many folks who’ll need care when our hospitals start taking hits, and this second station means we’ll have the same added capacity in our western county as we do in the east,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer, said in a statement.

But the location will need to find about 30 to 40 people to work there, and meet site requirements for the equipment, before it becomes fully operational, officials said.

The former Sears and the fairgrounds site will both host stable, less severe patients, while existing hospitals will care for those in more serious condition.

The Sears was one of several in Southern California that shut its door earlier this year, according to the Press-Enterprise.

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