Natomas Surge Hospital: the Patients and Price

Sleep Train Arena

Sleep Train Arena photographed at sunrise in October 2020. / Photo courtesy John Bartle

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

*Updated 10:30 a.m. on March 31, 2021

Fewer than 200 patients were housed at the Sleep Train Alternate Care Facility in Natomas in the past year.

Records show use of the facility alone costs upwards of $550,000 per month.

Data obtained by The Natomas Buzz as the result of California Public Records Act request shows a total of 196 patients were cared for at the site from May 2020 through February 2021.

During this period, the majority of patients — 41.8% — were between the ages of 50-64.

Individuals 65 years or older accounted for 34.7% of the patients while 23.4% were ages 18-49. No patients under 17 years old were cared for at the site, according to the data.

Additional information about the patients is not available for privacy reasons, but records obtained by The Natomas Buzz show that no one died while being cared for at the site.

Currently, the facility is in “warm status” and has no patients, a spokesperson for the state told The Natomas Buzz late last week.

Source: California Department of Public Health

Surge Hospital

An early surge in COVID-19 cases led state officials to enter an agreement with the Sacramento Kings to transform the former basketball arena, and adjacent practice facility, into a surge hospital in April 2020.

The arena location in Natomas was one of eight federal medical stations in California during the pandemic. The site’s capacity of up to 400 beds was part of the statewide effort to expand hospital capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Sleep Train Alternate Care Facility was meant to relieve pressure on area hospitals caring for patients with COVID-19 by providing medical care to less sick patients and enabling hospitals to focus on those with the most acute needs.

A total of nine patients were cared for at the site during May 2020 before operations at the arena were phased out and the care facility was put on standby.

In June 2020, the Sacramento Kings stopped charging the state rent for the old arena, according to a joint press release issued at the time. The state had an agreement to pay the Sacramento Kings $3 million for use of the arena through June 2020.

Despite the lack of patients, the facility remained under state control through October 2020 when the lease agreement was extended to December 31, 2020 for a total cost of $3.2 million.

Source: Agreement between California Department of Public Health and SBH Natomas LLC


As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations started to climb again in Sacramento County, the alternate care facility was reactivated.

According to the data, 66 patients were cared for at the facility in December 2020 and 81 patients in January.

As the number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations dropped in February, so too did the number of patients at the facility in Natomas. The data shows 40 patients were at the arena during February.

The current agreement between the state and Sacramento Kings, amended again in December, extended the lease through March 31. The agreement now totals $5.2 million. At press time, plans to extend the lease were unknown.

State spokesperson Bryan May told The Natomas Buzz that the facility is being provided at no cost, but the California Dept. of Public Health is paying the Sacramento Kings for wraparound services such as utilities, facilities support and patient and staff meals from their catering services.

According to the latest contract between the state and Sacramento Kings obtained by The Natomas Buzz, those costs exceed $550,000 per month with the bulk paying for recurring monthly expenses including security, engineering and housekeeping. Additional costs, such as pest management at $1,888 per month and Wifi at $10,000 per month, are also among the monthly charges.

Operational costs such as medical personnel are separate from use of the arena facilities.

*Article updated to include costs reported is for the facility only, not operations of the Alternate Care.


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