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Cal Poly COVID-19 Alternate Care Site undergoing deconstruction, site never used

Cal Poly’s Alternate Care Site, or ACS, was built as an emergency site to treat COVID-19 patients. After going unused for more than a year, it’s now being taken down.

San Luis Obispo County decommissioning of the facility has been ongoing for the past month.

County health public information officer Michelle Shoresman said they expect to have it completely broken down by the end of May.

“We’re kind of taking our time with it because there [are] a lot of logistics to getting all the different parts and pieces torn down and taken away,” Shoresman said. “So it’s being done slowly over time.”

San Luis Obispo County staff began building the site in March of 2020.

It was meant to treat potential COVID-19 patients in the event that hospitals became full during the pandemic.

It was constructed inside Cal Poly’s Recreation Center with 165 beds, each with an individual oxygen system.

The beds were donated from Cal Poly Housing and were earmarked for being recycled. Now, a fraction of them are being stored by the county in case a future emergency site is needed. But most of them are being donated to a few local camps.

Members of Camp Natoma in Paso Robles were at the site Monday. Emily Starkie Zbin is the camp’s executive director. She said they are taking about 40 beds for their campers.

“We’re so grateful, so grateful to have them for as long as they last,” Starkie Zbin said.

Shoresman said the other unused equipment from the ACS is being donated to hospitals, clinics and schools.

Takuto Doshiro is the interim assistant director of facility operations at Cal Poly’s Recreation Center. He’s been working in collaboration with the ACS to help make room for the facility.

“It’s definitely impacted our spaces, for sure,” Doshiro said. “Those are traditionally spaces that we would have had to operate but, because of the pandemic, we weren’t really going to be open indoors anyway.”

Doshiro said his team will be in charge of reorganizing all of the exercise equipment once the ACS is fully decommissioned.

The facility cost around $2.27 million to construct. 

Correction: A previous version this article said the facility cost around $1 million to construct. The proper figure is $2.27 million. The article has been updated.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.