Some overflowing LA hospitals resort to putting patients in gift shops, conference rooms

BySid Garcia and Kaylee Hartung KABC logo
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Overflowing LA hospitals place patients in gift shops, conference rooms
Some hospitals in Los Angeles County are so packed with COVID-19 patients, they're resorting to placing patients in conference rooms or even gift shops.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Some hospitals in Los Angeles County are so packed with COVID-19 patients, they're resorting to placing patients in conference rooms or even gift shops.

In just days, L.A. County is expected to surpass 10,000 deaths related to COVID-19. The county recently took new action, requiring all travelers to quarantine for 10 days. The region reports a 600% increase in COVID-19 related deaths since November.

RELATED: 1 person died in LA County from COVID every 10 to 15 minutes over past week

As Los Angeles County approaches the milestone of 10,000 COVID-19 deaths, the public health director announced a grim statistic: one person died in the county from the virus every 10 to 15 minutes over the past week.

"On average, nine to 10 people in L.A. County test positive for COVID-19 every minute," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director.

Over the weekend, 96% of hospitals in L.A. County had no room for emergency patients. Many facilities are struggling due to the lack of space. Members of the medical community are concerned that they're not only running out of beds to treat COVID patients -- but they're also those who need other medical attention.

"We're getting to a crisis in Los Angeles County where the hospitals are full. So one of the most important things to understand is if you get it, it's going to be challenging. There's kind of no room at the inn," said Dr. Marianne Gausche-Hill with the L.A. County Emergency Medical Services Agency.

WATCH: LA hospitals running out of space to treat patients with COVID, other illnesses

Hospital and medical centers in Los Angeles are simply running out of beds - not only for COVID-19 patients, but also those with other medical needs.

California Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly on Tuesday said hospitals in Los Angeles County are turning to "crisis care" and are bracing for another surge heading into the new year.

"We certainly know that Southern California hospitals are in crisis, and some have begun to implement parts of crisis care," he said.

State officials notified hospitals late Monday they should prepare for the possibility that they will have to resort to "crisis care" guidelines established earlier in the pandemic, which allow for rationing treatment when staff, medicine and supplies are in short supply.

Decisions about medical care cannot be made based on factors such as income, age or gender, instead being grounded primarily "in the likelihood of surviving in the near term," said Kim McCoy Wade, director of the California Department of Aging.

Ghaly warned a "significant surge" could come to Southern California in January.

MORE: Who will get the COVID-19 vaccine next in California?

After health care workers and nursing homes comes Phase 1B and Phase 1C in California. Here's how to know if you're included.

As the virus surges across the country, just over 2 million vaccine doses have been administered. The White House task force is pushing its goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans by the end of the year to January. Now, a fifth vaccine is entering phase 3 trials.

But the vaccine rollout hasn't been without difficulties. One pharmacy in Milwaukee was forced to throw out 50 vials - which equates to 500 doses - of the Moderna vaccine after they were inadvertently removed from the refrigerator and spoiled.

The facility, Aurora Medical Center, released the following statement:

"While some of the vaccine was administered to team members on Dec. 26 within the approved 12-hour post-refrigeration window, unfortunately most of it had to be discarded due to the temperature storage requirements necessary to maintain its viability."

In New York, a criminal investigation is underway after ParCare Community Health allegedly diverted vaccine doses to more than 850 people who were not on the priority list. The facility said it is actively cooperating with the investigation.

"We will not tolerate any fraud in the vaccination process," said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

RELATED: Pasadena hospital could be forced to ration care if COVID spike worsens

At Southern California hospitals, designated teams will be tasked with difficult decisions regarding patient care if resources run scarce.

RELATED: Health care workers at SoCal hospital pushed to breaking point

Providence Holy Cross Hospital in Mission Hills has seen the number of COVID-19 patients quadruple since the beginning of November.

RELATED: Doctor describes saving 10 code-blue patients in 1 shift

"I've never seen so many code blues, all in one shift." Dr. Raman Dhillon saved 10 code-blue patients in one morning at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, one of the hardest-hit hospitals in the nation.

MORE: When can you get the COVID-19 vaccine? Check where you are in line

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