LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — State officials are being dispatched to hospitals in Los Angeles County due to what authorities are calling “overflow conditions” in emergency rooms.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a support team was headed to Southern California after 96% of hospitals in the county were diverting emergency patients at some point over the weekend due to overcrowding in emergency rooms.
About 96% of county hospitals were on diversion at some point on Saturday compared with 33% pre-surge, according to the governor.
“As cases continue to remain at the alarmingly high levels, hundreds more people are likely to die,” said county health director Barbara Ferrer.
Los Angeles County Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly says an estimated half of all currently staffed hospital beds in L.A. County and two-thirds of staffed ICU beds are filled with COVID-19 patients.
“It’s complete chaos,” Tanya West, an ER nurse at a Covina hospital, told CBSLA by phone Monday. “Nurses running around, two patients in a room that’s only built for one patient, without the proper safety equipment. Patients waiting in ambulances outside the hospital.”
On Sunday, five local hospitals who were having trouble securing oxygen went on “internal-disaster” status, which diverted all emergency medical traffic to other facilities.
“We are running out of oxygen, it’s scary,” West said.
Some hospitals that are short on space are using conference rooms and gift shops to treat patients, Ghaly said.
As of Monday morning, there were 617 total hospital beds available countywide, in addition to 54 ICU beds, about half of which are pediatric beds.
On average, hospitals spent roughly 16 hours per day on diversion, leading to the slowing of some routine ER care, Newsom said.
As of Monday, the state officially listed L.A. County with nearly 7,200 COVID-positive patients in hospitals, including more than 1,400 in the ICU.
Newsom said new hospital admissions due to COVID-19 have begun to plateau across the state, except in Southern California.
L.A. County reported another 73 coronavirus-related deaths Monday, raising the county’s death toll to 9,555. The county also saw 13,661 new cases, raising the overall total to 733,325.