Photo by Bobbi Duffy

Dr. Karan Singh, San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital’s emergency department chairman.

Nearly two-thirds of services at San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital are generally outpatient procedures such as elective surgeries that can be planned in advance.

With many potential customers putting those procedures off, a lot of the non-emergency activity at the local hospital has virtually ground to a halt.

It is revenue the hospital is not generating.

And contributions that normally would have been raised during the hospital foundation’s annual spring gala had to be canceled this year due to the pandemic. The gala in 2018 raised just over $200,000, which the San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital Foundation uses to invest in equipment and furnishings for the hospital.

While there has not yet been an apparent rush of coronavirus patients at San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital, the institution is not idly waiting for a moment if it comes.

(The hospital does not share statistics on how many cases, if any, related to COVID-19 that potentially are or have been handled. They refer questions related to such data to the county’s public health department).

Dr. Karan Singh, the hospital’s emergency room director, notes that the world observed a massive surge of critically sick people that overwhelmed the capacity of Los Angeles and New York hospitals within a short time span.

In part due to the quarantine, and in part because some people are avoiding hospitals out of concern that they could be exposed to infection, a lot of elective procedures have been canceled, he points out.

That means that operating room nurses and other personnel have less to do in their regular departments.

Instead, the hospital has been paying to cross-train them to handle the expected looming coronavirus cases on the horizon, and preparing them to assist in the emergency room and intensive care unit.

At San Gorgonio “We’re in pretty good shape. We’ve had some good planning and we’re in daily contact with the county and other agencies” for updates on an anticipated surge of COVID-19 cases, according to San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital Healthcare District board chairman Dennis Tankersley, who anticipates that by April 22, the county will begin to exceed the full hospital bed availability, and by early May as that capacity affects San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital, there will be an increased need for supplies, equipment and trained personnel.

The situation creates a conundrum for hospitals everywhere.

“At a time when you need to spend money to prepare for a surge, there’s less money coming in” to pay for those preparations, says CEO Steve Barron. “It’s not unique to our hospital, but we can use all the help we can get.”

Dr. Singh reports “Our supplies at this time are adequate,” from iPads and personnel protective gear to all the equipment necessary for all team members that provide care for each COVID-19 patient that comes through, and here has been help from Harbor Freight, which has donated supplies.

That could all change overnight with a pandemic-related surge.

The hospital is hoping that the community can step up and contribute to the nonprofit San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital Foundation, which is overseeing the collection and distribution of donations to fund resiliency training for staff, medical supplies, equipment including additional ventilators, additional staff, as well as patient financial assistance.

Hospital board Vice Chairman Ehren Ngo reiterates a need for beds and capacity throughout the county.

“These pandemics are lifetime events, but they have the ability to overwhelm the system.”

He compliments his hospital’s staff for “really having made a commitment to emergency preparedness. They’re dedicated to address these issues — and any emergency,” Ngo says.

Considering the constant influx of updates and information, and the numbers of virtual meetings and calls within the medical community and public agencies, “We’re really thankful for all of our associates and physicians working to take care of the current patient load, while still preparing for the surge,” Tankersley adds.

To learn more on how to make contributions to the San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, call (951) 769-2184, or

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at , and messages may be left at (951) 849-4586 x114.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.


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