COVID-19 updates, including vaccine information, for our patients and visitors Learn More


Our COVID-19 Response

Care Team in expanded ER

UC San Diego Health was the first health system in the San Diego region to start caring for patients with COVID-19 in February 2020. We started administering COVID-19 vaccines in December 2020 and launched huge vaccination sites in early 2021.

We have led regional research efforts, including participating in clinical trials, to develop and test COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. And our scientists have launched a mobile platform to measure mental health and well-being during and after the pandemic on a global level.

Like hospital systems elsewhere, we saw an increase in patients who are in need of specialized respiratory care during the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to care for these patients at our Hillcrest and La Jolla locations in San Diego County.

Here are some of the steps we took to protect and care for you and the community:

COVID-19 Vaccinations

Vaccination Super Station near Petco Park

Following public health guidelines, we started vaccinating health care workers in December 2020.

In January, UC San Diego Health partnered with San Diego County and the San Diego Padres to launch a 280,000-square-foot Vaccination Super Station near Petco Park to vaccinate up to 5,000 community members a day for COVID-19.

In February, we opened a new vaccination site on the UC San Diego campus in La Jolla.

Increased Coronavirus Testing Capabilities

UC San Diego Health conducts multiple types of COVID-19 tests, both to diagnose active infections and to determine past exposure to the virus, for our patients and staff. We were the first in the San Diego region to conduct in-house COVID-19 testing and have prioritized testing as a critical tool for breaking the cycle of virus transmission.

We are offering COVID-19 tests to everyone in the community, including patients and the public.

Appointments and Safety

We have streamlined the ways in which we see patients. You can make an appointment to see a doctor in person, do a video visit or get same-day care.

We also have improved safety measures in our hospitals and clinics — including universal masking, health screening protocols and physical distancing practices — to protect all our patients.

Entrance Screening and Visitor Restrictions

We are conducting health screenings at the entrances of our facilities to screen for those who have symptoms of the novel coronavirus. Any visitor or employee with those symptoms isn't allowed to enter. Masks or face coverings are required for all patients, visitors and staff. In addition, we have tightened our visitors policy.

Triage tent at UCSD

ER Expansion

In 2020, we erected two specialized structures — known as triage tents — outside our emergency rooms in Hillcrest and La Jolla to manage patient care. These units were fully stocked with medical supplies and diagnostic testing equipment.

The structures allowed UC San Diego Health to quickly evaluate patients with respiratory illnesses and to determine who needed to be hospitalized and who could safely be sent home.

Mobile Lifesaving Technology

UC San Diego Health provides ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) technology to COVID-19 patients who become so ill that a ventilator alone cannot sustain life; their blood requires to be oxygenated with the help of the ECMO machine. This life-support technology replaces the function of the heart and/or lungs.

In April, we launched mobile ECMO units with a multidisciplinary team that includes pulmonologists, surgeons, nurses and perfusionists with expertise in critical care medicine. We are providing this transportable ECMO to area hospitals that either don't have the technology or need it when their own ECMO service gets maxed out.

Caring for the Community

Through our affiliation with El Centro Regional Medical Center in Imperial County, our care teams deliver on-site and telemedicine-based critical care to patients with COVID-19. The most critically ill patients may be transferred to one of our hospitals, including via mobile ECMO services.

UC San Diego Health was also part of a cross-border volunteer team of critical care doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists who collaborated with their counterparts at hospitals in Tijuana and Mexicali on how best to treat the sickest patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

Locally, we have donated safety equipment to various organizations, such as the Alpha Project and Chicano Federation, which help the homeless and families in need in San Diego County. We have also provided COVID-19 testing services to the homeless in partnership with the Father Joe’s Villages nonprofit organization.

Donations for COVID-19 Emergency Response

The outpouring of support from our community has empowered us to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Your continued support and volunteering can help us prepare for what is next. Visit our How to Help page for details on how you can help.

Working Together

During this pandemic, it is everyone's responsibility to protect one another's health. See regularly updated information about our care and services during the COVID-19 crisis.