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Article and Picture: County News Service

April 6, 2020 (San Diego) --- On Sunday, April 5, 2020, San Diego County public health and elected officials, joined by leadership of Palomar Health, announced that a 250 bed Federal Medical Station was being loaned to the county and would be installed in two vacant floors of Palomar Medical Center Escondido. The action came in response to a county request on March 21. The equipment is expected to arrive in the next 10 days and will be operational within 48 hours of its installation by a federal team. Announcing the news were County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar, Palomar Health President and CEO Diane Hansen, and Palomar Health Board of Directors Chair Dr. Rick Engel.

Facts about Palomar Health Federal Medical Station


  • A Federal Medical Stations (FMS) has the following capabilities:
    • Provide services in the capacity of an Alternate Care Facility (ACF) or a low acuity health care resource.
    • Can support quarantine operations and serve as a short-term casualty collection point.
    • Though the FMS has many attributes, it is not a standalone system. All FMS require an identified building and site support from the state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) jurisdiction.
  • At a minimum, an FMS assessment team must be able to validate uninterrupted power, potable water, food services, heat and air conditioning, and local wrap around service support to establish initial operating capabilities.

Delivery and Assembly:

  • FMS sets and pharmacy caches are strategically located throughout the continental United States to facilitate rapid deployment.
  • There is a Strike Team whose primary mission is to provide technical assistance to assigned volunteers and clinical staff in the setup of one or multiple FMSs.

What’s Included in the 250 Bed FMS:

  • Each FMS is usually augmented by an Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) pharmacy cache which is delivered on a separate truck.
    • The current configuration of the Pharmacy cache contains over 400 medications to include controlled substances.
  • 200 General Use Bed (GUB). 
    • The GUB has a 400-pound weight capacity, the bed is a flat basic cot with no distinct features.
    • There are 200 GUBs within 25 tri-walls in a 250-bed FMS. The GUBs are packed eight to a tri-wall.  
    • The two packages located on each bed are called a bed pack and hygiene kit.
    • Bed packs contain helpful items like a patient belongings bag, blankets, pillow, sheets, chart holder, towel and wash cloth. The hygiene kits contain useful toiletry items.
  • 20 Enhanced care treatment beds, also known as the Westcot.
    • This bed has a 400 Ib. weight capacity and includes an adjustable back and foot section and an IV pole which can be attached to either side of the head portion of the bed.
  • 10 Hospital Adjustable Exam Bed called Military Field Hospital bed. (For Triage)
    • There are 10 hospital adjustable exam beds within two tri-walls in a 250-bed FMS.
  • 5 Bariatric Bed
    • The bed has a 600 lbs. weight capacity and the head and leg sections and overall height of bed can be adjusted electrically or manually.
  • 25 Toddler Cots
  • 24 Portable Cribs
  • Additional Supplies:
    • Bed packs
    • Hygiene kits
    • Nursing supplies
    • Folding tables and chairs
    • Lamps and extension cords
    • Disposable plates, cups and utensils
    • Trash cans and bags
    • House keeping supplies
    • Numerous other medical and administrative supplies

When did the County ask for the hospital?

  • March 21

Who approves the request?

  • The California Department Public Health following a site assessment by the Army Corp of Engineers.

What is the federal government’s role?

  • The federal government made assets available to loan to the state. The state then took requests from local governments. Army Corps then performs a site survey to determine whether a request meets the federal criteria. 

What is the state government’s role?

  • The state processes the local applications and approves loans based on the Army Corps analysis.

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