EL CENTRO, Calif. — For 32 years, Judy Cruz has cared for patients who showed up in the emergency room in the arid, agrarian valley that straddles Mexico along the California border. There have been bad flu seasons that caused hospitalizations to spike; weekends when off-road vehicle collisions in the desert resulted in traumatic injuries and scorching summer days when overheated farm workers required intensive resuscitation. Among the patients was always a smattering of Americans who lived across the border. "We are a teeny tiny hospital but have always been able to manage, calling in staff on their days off or transferring one or two patients out a day to bigger facilities," said Ms. Cruz, director of the emergency department of the El Centro Regional Medical Center. "We'd get a surge for 24 or 48 hours that required all hands on the deck." Then came the coronavirus . The hospital, which has a 20-bed intensive-care unit, has been overwhelmed with ailing residents of the Imperial Valley, as well as Americans and U.S. green card holders fleeing overcrowded clinics and hospitals in Mexicali, a city of 1.1 million on the other side of the border. [Sign up for California Today ,… Read full this story
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