At L.A. hospital, there are so many COVID-19 patients some are being put in the gift shop

Catherine Garcia
·2 min read

To make room for all of the COVID-19 patients at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles, staffers have found a way to get more people inside for treatment: They are placing their gurneys inside the gift shop, chapel, and conference room.

Already, there are five tents outside of the hospital to help with overflow. Dr. Elaine Batchlor, the hospital's CEO, told CNN workers have been "incredibly adept and flexible in accommodating increasing numbers of patients," but if the pace keeps up, they will have to start contemplating whether to ration care. This, she said, is something "we really just loathe having to even think about."

In the past seven days, Los Angeles County has reported 100,000 new coronavirus cases, and L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer on Monday said the "sad reality is that all indicators show us that our situation may only get worse as we begin 2021." Batchlor told CNN that while patients won't be turned away from her hospital, it might soon get to the point where "we use what in the battlefield is called triage techniques, which is doing an assessment of each person's needs and prognosis and using scarce resources with patients that are most likely to benefit from them."

COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States reached a record high on Monday, with 121,235 patients in the hospital, the Covid Tracking Project said. Looking at data published Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services, CNN found that over the last week, about 40 percent of all intensive care unit patients in the country had COVID-19, up from 16 percent in late September, 22 percent in late October, and 35 percent in late November.

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