Thanks to physical distancing, this LA hospital got to prepare for a potential 2nd wave of COVID-19

The hospital ordinarily has a baseline of 124 ICU beds, but they set up a multi-tiered system with the capacity to expand to 175 and even 200 beds if needed.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center has been ramping up its operations to prepare for any health emergency scenario.

At one point, the hospital was treating 90 COVID-19 patients, while simultaneously adjusting existing space and resources to make room for even more.

"We got a little bit crowded in our area so we had to overflow here," said Dr. Christopher Celantano, referring to specialized medical tents that were set up in front of the facility's ER to ensure that patients can be kept far apart.

A large room, which used to serve as a recovery room for elective surgery patients, was repurposed to serve as an ICU.

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The hospital ordinarily has a baseline of 124 ICU beds, but they set up a multi-tiered system with the capacity to expand to 175 and even 200 beds if needed.

"This hospital was built with the mindset that we are going to take care of critically-ill patients so we have a very large number of ventilators," said Dr. Meghan Lewis.

Despite all that preparation, ER visits are 30 percent below normal, which doctors say is both a blessing and a concern.

"We are open for business for people who have emergencies. If you think you may be having a stroke or a serious injury. We are open for business," said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brad Spellberg. "This is not the time to be deferring your care."

Spellburg said physical distancing measures put in place by local and state authorities allowed his team to prepare. And as counties start to slowly reopen, doctors stress that these practices need to continue.

"We have to be very careful to open up in a way that makes a lot of sense, that is safe so that we don't put patients and community members at risk," said Dr. Jan Schoenberger, Emergency Department Service Chief.
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