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Children's Hospital Los Angeles prepares for move to new building

July 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The big Children's Hospital Los Angeles move and Carmageddon are all on the same weekend. Nobody planned it that way - it's just all a coincidence.

The emergency department is also part of the big move. Eyewitness News got an exclusive look inside the new facility.

Nearly 40 percent more bed space, a larger state-of the-art trauma unit and specialized rooms dedicated solely to asthma and respiratory care, Children's Hospital Los Angeles will be moving into one of the largest and best-equipped emergency department's for pediatrics in the western United States. But first, staffers, equipment and patients will all have to be moved in.

"We've penciled this out on paper. We've rehearsed it," said emergency department director Dr. Alan Nager.

Nager says the big Sunday morning move took a year to plan and will take place with military precision.

"The old emergency department will close at 6 a.m. We won't allow any new patients to go there. They will be redirected to the new emergency department," said Nager.

Walk-ins will still be accepted. But the emergency department will be closed to ambulance and helicopter transports from 2 a.m. to noon on Sunday. Historically, that's the slowest time of the night.

"When we look at our data in the past, this is really only going to affect possibly up to five ambulances. [The ambulances] would be averted to another hospital that would be able to accept that patient," said Cathy Chidester of the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency.

Of course this is also the weekend of a major freeway closure that could cripple roadways everywhere. Transports will be diverted to other hospitals, equipment to handle pediatric cases. And in the event of a major catastrophe, Children's Hospital L.A. will still be ready for action.

"We're going to be in constant communication with them. We would just notify them, and they would be able to open up to that ambulance traffic if necessary," said Chidester.

Nager said his department is ready to deal with disasters if they should occur.

"The truth of the matter is, that at any point, we could stay in the old emergency department if a disaster occurred. If it happened soon after we move to the new emergency department, we're well-equipped and well-trained to manage disaster situations," said Nager.

The emergency department isn't the only thing moving Sunday morning, the staff will also be moving hundreds of patients from the old hospital tower to the newly-built Anderson Pavilion.

County and hospital officials say while it's going to be a monumental task, the public safety and service will not be impacted at all.

While the administrators at Children's Hospital are not planning to open the emergency department to ambulance traffic until noon, if things go smoothly, it may reopen as early as 9:00 a.m.

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