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L.A. hospitals prepare for 405 closure

July 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Carmaggedon is two weeks away, and it's possible everything will go smoothly. But just in case it doesn't, hospitals are coming up with back-up plans.

Access to hospitals may be difficult once the 405 shuts down between the 10 and Highway 101 for an entire weekend beginning the night of July 15, an event that has been dubbed "Carmaggedon."

See a live cam shot of the Mulholland Bridge construction site.

Carmaggedon has been weighing on the staff at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center, where about 60 percent of the nurses in the labor and delivery department alone have long commutes.

"I mean, it already takes a long time to get here without that going on," said nurse Debby Chacon. "Imagine a Friday night, Saturday or Sunday. It's going to be pretty bad."

The staff had already devised their own plans for getting to work on that dreaded weekend in July.

"We were going to leave the house four hours early hoping that was going to be enough," said Chacon.

UCLA health officials recognized the freeway's closure could affect patient care if employees can't get to work, so they invited nearly 1,500 employees to a sleepover for the weekend. Employees will be housed in available hospital rooms, campus dorms, and even the Tiverton House, a UCLA hotel designed for out-of-town patients and their families.

In Santa Monica, hospital officials have also devised a plan.

"We have a new facility that doesn't open until January where we can place staff," said UCLA Health Systems Chief Operating Officer Shannon O'Kelley. "We've ordered cots and roll out beds, so it's going to be a slumber party. So we're going to have a lot of fun."

"I feel that's great they're taking care of us and helping us out so we don't have to worry about, 'Am I going to be late, do I have to call in sick?'" said Chacon. "I think that's awesome."

Carmaggedon is turning out to be a great learning experience for Westside hospitals.

"Yes, because we are starting to think about what would happen if the 405 shuts down in 10 minutes from now?" said O'Kelley. "How would we respond? And how can we plan for that? So it is absolutely true. We are taking this as an opportunity to learn and to be prepared for future events."

Aside from beds, the hospital will be providing their employees with meals as well. Starting next week, hospital officials will be distributing flyers with tips on how to plan ahead for carmaggeddon to all of their patients.

Beat Carmageddon with ABC7

The 405 shuts down the weekend of July 16-17, and ABC7 Eyewitness News is your home for the latest traffic news and information. Follow @abc7 and @BeatCarmageddon on Twitter, and use the hash tag #abc7traffic.

ABC7 has also partnered with Waze to help navigate the traffic. Download the Waze app, which provides free turn-by-turn GPS navigation based on the live conditions of the road. Join the community of drivers in Southern California today and beat Carmageddon.

Check out the latest Carmageddon coverage from abc7.com


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