RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — A former Sears department store in Riverside has been selected as the second Riverside County site for a federal medical station (FMS).

The 90,000-square-foot building that formerly housed the department store on Arlington Avenue will be converted into a 125-bed hospital using materials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This week, the California National Guard will be on-site to begin setting up a portion of the station.

The station will provide an additional 125 beds to the county’s overall hospital system ahead of an expected surge in COVID-19 cases.

“Moving out the medically fragile folks from Magnolia Rehab was just the beginning,” said Riverside County public health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser.

“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.”

The FMS will have the equipment to run a basic hospital including beds, bedsheets, portable sinks, medication and complete units of personal protective equipment such as N95 masks, surgical masks, gloves, gowns and face shields.

“This facility will ease the burden on our local hospitals during the pandemic, which will allow them to perform more effectively for everyone,” said Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey.

“On behalf of our local medical community, I appreciate the county’s efforts to increase capacity in our area.”

Riverside County hospitals will move stable, less severe patients to this location, as well as an identical FMS already in operation at the fairgrounds in Indio, allowing more capacity in existing hospitals to respond to more critical patients.

“We will very soon need every single hospital bed in Riverside County,” said Vice Chair Karen Spiegel, Second District Supervisor. “This medical station will give us sorely needed bed space, so that medical teams can continue their heroic efforts to treat more patients in need.”

The county plans to have 30 to 40 personnel work at the Riverside location.

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