California hospital CEOs: More patients crossing US-Mexico border for COVID-19 care

COVID-19 patients, many of them American, are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border for treatment at California hospitals, according to CNN.

The trend, first reported in May, led California hospitals to implement a patient transfer system to ease overflow at some emergency departments. At one point in May, Adlphe Edward, CEO of the 161-bed El Centro (Calif.) Regional Medical Center, said the hospital had to stop accepting new patients in its ER as COVID-19 cases climbed. 

"It's an unprecedented surge across the border," Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association, told CNN. More than 500 patients have been transferred to hospitals across California in the last five weeks from the state's Imperial County. Imperial County has the state's highest per capita rate of COVID-19, and has seen many patients cross the U.S.-Mexico border for treatment.

Ms. Coyle and Scripps Health CEO Chris Van Gorder said the crossborder surge, which is also affecting hospitals within the San Diego-based health system, is not an immigration issue. Most of the COVID-19 patients are Americans, he said.

About a quarter of a million U.S. citizens live across the border in the Mexican state of Baja California, according to CNN. Many of those citizens work and get medical care from hospitals in the U.S. Some hospital leaders said patients may have decided to seek care in the U.S. because hospitals in Mexico were overwhelmed by COVID-19. 

Read the full report here.

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