SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — A group of doctors and other medical professionals will spend the next four weeks treating COVID-19 patients in Tijuana, Mexico.

One of the doctors is Jess Mandel, chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care at UC San Diego Health.

“We had sort of heard rumors for a while about challenges that were being faced by Tijuana. We felt these are our colleagues and we want to do everything we can to help them,” Mandel said. “We’ve seen this with other infectious diseases, where we look at a bi-national effort across the border. We certainly see it with COVID-19, the more we cooperate together the better people are on both sides of the border.”

Mandel and fellow UC San Diego Health Dr. Timothy Morris will spend mornings making rounds with their counterparts at Tijuana’s Hospital General, treating and diagnosing patients.

Dr. Jess Mandel is pictured on the left, fellow UC San Diego Health Dr. Timothy Morris is in green with ICU Nurse Kelly O’Connor pictured in front of Tijuana’s Hospital General. (Courtesy: Dr. Jess Mandel)

Everyone is acting on a volunteer basis helping on their free time.

“Last thing we want to do is say, ‘we know the problem, we’re here to fix it,’ that never works,” Mandel said. “The goal is to combine our expertise, combine our perspective, learning is in both directions, we take back what we learn to San Diego and hopefully they learn from us.”

Mandel said doctors in Tijuana told him hospitals are working at twice the capacity of their facilities.

“It is clear that like other places we’ve seen like New York, Spain … like Italy, this is a system under stress, people are doing everything they can to help as many people as they can,” he said.

Tijuana is one of the cities in Mexico’s with the largest number of coronavirus cases. According to Baja California’s Secretary of Health, Tijuana has 1,719 cases with 438 deaths.

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