Trauma center at LA hospital shut down for hours due to blood shortage

A Los Angeles trauma center closed to new patients this week as a result of blood supply shortages, according to the county's Department of Health Services.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services confirmed to The Hill that it shut down the trauma center at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center for a couple of hours. The trauma center had to ask other hospitals for blood in order to reopen.

It was the first time in over three decades that the trauma center was forced to close to new patients.

"I can't emphasize enough just how urgent and critical this blood shortage is for L.A. County residents," Marianne Gausche-Hill, medical director of the Los Angeles County EMS Agency, said to The Hill.

Christina Ghaly, director of the Health Services department, told The Hill the closure came in middle of a COVID-19 surge, at a time "when hospitals and ambulance providers are already struggling and when emergency departments are already strained"

“Unless we see an immediate re-prioritizing of the current blood supply by Southern California Blood Banks so that the available supply is prioritized for and distributed to designated LA County trauma centers – we could see trauma centers forced to close down more frequently and for longer periods of time in the coming weeks,” she added in a statement. 

The Los Angeles Times first reported the closure.

It came after the Red Cross declared its first-ever national blood crisis in the U.S. on Tuesday and warned of the severe consequences for patients — including doctors being forced to make "difficult decisions" about which people receive blood transfusions.

The American Red Cross said at the time that it had "less than a one-day supply of critical blood types" and had to limit distributions to hospitals.

"At times, as much as one-quarter of hospital blood needs are not being met," the organization added.
 
--Updated at 12:20 p.m.