Packed Los Angeles hospitals placing patients in gift shops: report


As coronavirus cases surge in Southern California, some Los Angeles County hospitals have been forced to use gift shop space, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In addition to using gift shops and conference rooms, nearly every hospital in the county has been forced to reroute some ambulances carrying patients, according to the newspaper. More than 90 percent of county hospitals that take patients based on 911 calls were forced to divert some ambulances on Sunday.

Occupancy in the county’s intensive care unit has broken records for more than 14 consecutive days. On Sunday, the most recent day for which data has been made public, the county had 1,449 intensive care patients. The pace of daily net patient increases is down slightly from mid-December. The county had a total of 54 available intensive care beds as of Monday.

“All hospitals are experiencing this strain, but it’s especially more pronounced and more serious for some of the smaller hospitals,” L.A. County Health Services Director Christina Ghaly told the Times. “Many hospitals have reached a crisis point and are having to make many tough decisions about patient care.”

She added that the ambulance diversions are a ticking time bomb.

“Soon, there won’t be any places for these ambulances to go,” she told the Times. “If every hospital is on diversion, then no hospital is on diversion.”

Kevin Metcalfe, CEO at Gardena Memorial Hospital, told the Times that the hospital has been forced to send home nearly all patients who are not extremely sick and can be treated with outpatient care.

“I’ve been in the business 40 years,” he said, “and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Due to the virus, U.S. hospitalizations have reached a record high. The COVID Tracking Project recorded more than 121,000 hospitalizations nationwide, including 22,592 intensive care patients.

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