INDIO – JFK Memorial Hospital was braced for impact as an estimated 1 million fans flocked to the Coachella Valley for three weekends of music under sun-drenched skies, many fueled by drugs and alcohol.
The Indio-based hospital ramped up staffing, increased staff hours, and prepared for everything from dehydration to mass casualties,. That was the portrait of preparation Dr. Andrew Kassinove, medical director of the Emergency Department, painted for Uken Report before the throngs of fans descended on the Coachella Valley.
The portrait held up well during the three-weekend party.
Staff not scheduled at the hospital were on-call and expected to be at the hospital in 30 minutes notice, Kassinove said.
As the three 2019 weekends of music came to end, 316 patients were seen and treated and JFK Memorial Hospitals’ Emergency Department, said Todd Burke, director of communications for Tenet Healthcare in California.
That’s 43 more patients than the 273 people who were seen and treated at the hospital’s Emergency Department in 2018, according to Burke.
Examples of some diagnoses for all three weekends included:
- Substance Abuse
- Acute Alcohol Intoxication
- Heat Exhaustion
- Fractured Bone
HIPAA regulations don’t allow the hospital to share information that could identify a patient, so there is limited info it can release.
Part of the spike in patients could be due in part to a record-breaking crowd of a reported 80,000 people that attended the Cole Swindell concert on April 26.
The maladies charted were much as Kassinove predicted.
Stagecoach attracts primarily a group of U.S.-based spectators. Their drug of choice is alcohol.
Coachella draws an international crowd from all over the world that tends to be younger, Kassinove said. This group tends to have more drug-related issues that involve multiple substances, he said.
People travel to the Coachella Valley who aren’t used to the heat and dust, Kassinove said. They end up suffering heat exhaustion and asthma attacks.
The biggest difference between the two festivals — other than the music — is the difference in the mix of patients needing treatment, according to Kassinove.
- Coachella: Shutterstock