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Officials: UCLA, VA Hospitals Ready For ‘Carmageddon’

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Hospitals on the Westside of Los Angeles are prepared for next week’s shutdown of the San Diego (405) Freeway, officials said Friday.

UCLA hospitals in Santa Monica and Westwood, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs – West Los Angeles Medical Center, plan to offer overnight accomodations for their employees in order to ensure the centers are fully staffed.

“We have notified our veteran patients that during the freeway closure, we will continue to provide health care services,” VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System Director Donna Beiter said. “However, access to the medical center will be limited, so patients and staff need to consider alternate routes during the closure.”

Elsewhere, UCLA Health System Chief Operating Officer Shannon O’Kelley said the hospital is completely ready for the closure.

“I can’t imagine any other hospital in the United States being better prepared for disaster than we are. I have no concerns,” O’Kelley said.

In addition to establishing housing for necessary staff that live far from the hospitals, UCLA has ordered advance Thursday shipments of essential food and medicines to last through the highway closure and into the following week.

O’Kelley said the hospital is also asking people who have medical emergencies to call 911 instead of driving themselves to emergency rooms.

UCLA has also contacted its three helicopter contractors to ensure service is available if patients need to be transported or an organ needs to be delivered, O’Kelley said.

“It’s really a great opportunity, because it is an exercise for us to make sure we have the right disaster preparedness plan should the 405 collapse 10 minutes from now,” O’Kelley said. “It’s going to be a complex weekend. But the project is desperately needed for Westside, and we’re happy to be part of it.”

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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