With COVID-19 hospitalizations reaching their all-time high in the region and ICU capacity nearly maxed out, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a $2.5 million allocation of financial support for Community Medical Centers.
The financial support comes from the county’s $98 million allocation of COVID-19 relief funds from the CARES Act. Supervisor Nathan Magsig said the county has spent over $50 million of its CARES Act funding and has committed the rest of it.
“Community has a real vital and unique role in the medical system and in our community at-large,” said Supervisor Steve Brandau. “They’re that provider that will see people, grab them off the street if they come in, if they need help. Many times they’re uninsured, underinsured – they still get to go to community hospital. They fill a very unique role. Because of serving that demographic so well, a lot of times they don’t get a chance to recoup those dollars, so we wanted to be a part of helping them today get through this very difficult time.”
According to the latest update from the state, Fresno County has 491 patients hospitalized who have COVID-19, as well as 37 patients who are suspected to have the coronavirus.
Of that total of 528 patients, 73 of them are being cared for in the ICU, and the county had 16 ICU beds available per the last update Tuesday.
Community Medical Centers – which includes both Community Regional Medical and Clovis Community Medical Center – is caring for the majority of COVID-19 patients in Fresno County.
The hospital network last reported Monday that there are 331 patients who have COVID-19 or are expected of having the virus that are being cared for in the two hospitals.
With the large numbers of COVID-19 positive patients, the Community workforce has taken a large hit. There are 381 employees currently self-isolating because of the coronavirus, including 230 who have tested positive.
Katie Zenovich, Senior Vice President of Development and External Affairs for Community, thanked the Board of Supervisors for their support.
“We cannot thank the Fresno County Board of Supervisors enough,” Zenovich. “Thank you for your leadership in what you’re doing for this county, because honestly we serve more people in the county than any other. We’re the anchor hospital, and when people turn to us in need, we are here for them. We will never close. We will always be here for them, but guess what? We don’t always know how to pay for it.”
Zenovich said Community received CARES Act funding in March but blew through it in September, and with the current surge of COVID-19 cases, she expects the $2.5 million allocation could be spent within a week. Some of the costs include paying for personal protection equipment, medical supplies and equipment as well as paying for extra staff that has been brought in to help manage the surge.
“We’re spending millions of dollars every week,” Zenovich said. “It’s going to make a dent. It’s going to make an impact to help people who need it the most. It’s going to supplant some expenses that we continue to absorb. It’s not going to cover all of it, but it’s going to make a dent.”