Hospitals in the Valley region are preparing for an influx of COVID-19 patients, with experts predicting many facilities in the U.S. health care system will be overwhelmed with cases in the coming months.
According to data released by the Harvard Global Health Institute, hospitals in the Los Angeles area will be nearly 100 percent over capacity if 20 percent of the population is infected during the course of six months. The data take into account current occupancy, which was 66 percent in L.A. County as of 2018.
Los Angeles County is currently reporting 292 cases of coronavirus, including two deaths, as of noon on Friday. That’s less than 1 percent of the county’s overall population of more than 10 million.
“We’d really like to caution people in thinking about the numbers of beds in hospitals because we have an ability to shift and reshape and change that capacity based on needs,” Adam Blackstone, vice president of external affairs for the Hospital Association of Southern California, said in an email to the Business Journal. “Point-in-time numbers aren’t useful – we are working in real time to shift physical space and add more capacity. Additionally, we want to maintain and reserve the hospital capacity for those individuals who are acutely ill and in need of hospital care.”
Thousand Oaks’ Los Robles Regional Medical Center has 341 staffed beds, according to data submitted to the Business Journal for 2018. Providence St. Joseph Health hospitals in Tarzana, Mission Hills and Burbank have staffed bed counts of 201, 315 and 257, respectively.
Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Woodland Hills and Panorama City reported staffed bed counts of 84 and 77, respectively.
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia is approved for a total of 357 beds, according to an email from a hospital spokesperson.
“We were able to promptly reactivate a unit in our hospital that was vacated when we opened our new patient tower last October,” said Larry Kidd, vice president and chief clinical officer for Henry Mayo, on Thursday. “The reactivated unit is being used to isolate and treat confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients. We have also set up a floor in our patient tower specifically for this same patient population for use if needed. All told we have 42 beds immediately available.”
While many hospital representatives did not respond with occupancy numbers, some discussed plans to battle capacity issues.
A spokesperson for Los Robles told the Business Journal the hospital has a “surge plan” in place if capacity is reached. Such a plan helps hospital staff and management work within the hospital and communicate needs to government entities, according to guidelines available on the California Hospital Association's website.
Kaiser Permanente will be combing through elective surgeries to see what is medically necessary and what can be postponed too, as a way to alleviate capacity concerns. The health care system also has drive-up testing centers available for Kaiser members who have a recommendation from a physician. A no-visitor policy was implemented, with the exception of one visitor for maternity, pediatric, end-of-life care and those admitted for same-day surgery.