As confirmed coronavirus cases continue to surge in Tehachapi and surrounding areas, the International Medical Corps partnered with Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley by deploying an emergency medical field unit to the hospital.

On July 28, members of the corps erected a tent in front of the hospital to provide overflow space for non-COVID patients. This is the second tent to be put up in front of the hospital, located on Magellan Drive in Capital Hills, since the pandemic started. 

In addition to the tent, the International Medical Corps brought personal protective equipment and other medical supplies to support Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley. 

PPE supplied to the hospital included 10,000 N95 and surgical masks, 6,000 isolation gowns, 200 boxes of gloves and 300 face shields.

The deployment of equipment and supplies is part of the Corps’ work to increase capacity at overburdened hospitals and long-term care facilities throughout the United States.

"The International Medical Corps has done amazing work to partner with hospitals in our region to build capacity as we prepare for a potential surge. We are blessed that this gift of additional resources continues to support readiness to meet the needs of the Tehachapi Valley," said Christina Scrivner, director of philanthropy for Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley. 

The additional tent houses patient beds, medical examination supplies, portable sinks, power, lighting and HVAC units. It was erected in a matter of hours and can withstand sustained winds of up to 80 mph. 

The humanitarian aid organization has now deployed emergency medical field units in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Detroit and Puerto Rico, with its longtime collaborator FedEx providing related logistical and shipping support to the nationwide effort. In addition, it has provided personal protective equipment  and other medical supplies and equipment to facilities and municipalities across the country, according to a July 27 news release.

Where requested, the International Medical Corps will activate its volunteer roster of nearly 300 medical professionals to provide medical surge capacity to partner hospitals, helping to fill critical gaps in patient care, nursing, and infection prevention and control. In addition, it is training hospital and long-term care staff on preparedness, response and mental health needs, according to the news release.

Asked how many patients the tent will hold, Kiyoshi Tomono, partnership executive for Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley, said, "We are in the process of equipping the inside, but roughly a maximum of eight when using gurneys/beds."

According to Tomono, the tent will be up as long as it might be needed for the COVID-19 response.

Asked if the additional tent was erected due to the surge in confirmed cases of coronavirus, Tomono said, "Not per se. The tent was installed thanks to the generosity of International Medical Corps, which has been assisting nationwide and realized the need for hospitals to respond quickly. The tent affords Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley with the flexibility of having extra capacity if/when it’s needed. We plan to use the tent as overflow for non-COVID hospital patients should that need arise."

In addition to the above PPE, Tomono said the International Medical Corps also has offered several of the latest high-flow nasal oxygen units, complete with accessories and consumables, and will pair these with the latest in portable pulse oximetry devices and disposable stethoscopes, to monitor respiratory status.

Said Tomono, "This crisis to date has revealed the need for novel ways to support critical respiratory status and oxygenation. One such treatment is through the use of high flow nasal oxygen supplementation."

According to Dr. Solomon Kuah, country director, North America, International Medical Corps, the Corps receives its funding from a variety of public and private sources, including international, national and state aid and health agencies, corporations, foundations and individuals.

Tomono said the tent hasn't been used yet.

"But we cannot underscore how important it is for us to be prepared and ahead of the curve," Tomono said.

According to Kuah, the International Medical Corps also trains individuals within their own community by providing them with skills they need to recover, chart their own path to self-reliance and become effective first responders themselves.

"It is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by working closely with international, national and local aid and health organizations to provide medical expertise, equipment, training, and triage and treatment services," Kuah said. "In the U.S., it is supporting 32 hospitals and 51 long-term care facilities nationwide, with particular focus on vulnerable and under-served communities with at-risk populations."

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