LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Federal medical teams are on the way to help slammed Southern California hospitals deal with the onslaught of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Military doctors, nurses and other medical workers are expected to arrive Thursday at LA County USC Medical Center and Harbor UCLA Medical Center, which has been operating its ICU at 150% capacity. Hospitals across Southern California have been overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, and even though some have created more space for patients by building field hospitals or expanding into its lobbies and gift shops, qualified doctors and nurses are in short supply.
Sending military medical teams was California’s Plan B after a request for the Navy’s USNS Mercy Hospital ship was denied. The floating hospital ship is undergoing mandatory maintenance, in dry dock, in Portland and is not available for deployment.
California officials on Tuesday requested 360 Department of Defense medical personnel, 135 Health and Human Services Disaster Medical Assistance Team personnel and 50 more FEMA personnel, bringing the current federal augmentation request to more than 500 staff. Tuesday’s request would supplement the 1,420 medical surge personnel that have already deployed to healthcare facilities across the state, officials said.
“As California continues to face unprecedented surges in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the state is leveraging all available resources to support our front line medical workers,” Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci said in a statement.
The state has also requested and deployed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help evaluate oxygen delivery system upgrades in the Los Angeles area, due to older hospitals being overtaxed by the volume of oxygen flow required to treat COVID-19 patients.