Los Angeles County Uses Hospital Preparedness Program Funds to Expand Surge Capacity and Secure Essential Resources
Los Angeles, California
Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) funding was instrumental to laying the foundation for Los Angeles County (LAC) to prepare for the winter COVID-19 case surge from November 2020 to January 2021. During this time, California’s limited bed and resource availability interrupted emergency departments’ ambulance offloading, which led to longer wait times for patients. As the region experienced a continual surge of COVID-19 patients, with a peak of over 8,000 hospitalized patients in January 2021, hospitals came close to implementing crisis standards of care (CSC). All hospitals in the county were working beyond capacity and needed EMS and hospital resources as well as outside support from state and federal partners. Of the 96 hospitals in LAC, 13 hospitals are designated Disaster Resource Centers (DRCs).
As the manager of HPP funding in LAC, LAC Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agency, the largest multi-jurisdictional EMS agency in the nation, established a disaster preparedness program which included setting up a warehouse for distribution of medical equipment and supplies. In 2020, over 6,000 resource requests were filled, and 50 million items, including medical supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE), pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and over 100 surge tents, were distributed to health care facilities. Additionally, during this period, LAC EMS Agency worked with hospitals to strengthen their oxygen delivery systems by working with bulk liquid and gas oxygen suppliers, setting up oxygen concentrators or “depots”, and providing additional ventilators and high-flow oxygen devices through available caches.
HPP funding was critical in equipping LAC EMS Agency with the core preparedness and response capabilities needed to support hospitals responding to the winter COVID-19 surge, better enabling them to increase the number of surge beds through space conversion and use of surge tents. Additionally, LAC EMS Agency collaborated with DRCs to facilitate a regionalized approach toward supporting hospitals on the verge of CSC implementation, asking DRCs to expand capacity to assist with load balancing of patient surge across the region. Furthermore, the state of California assigned personnel to stabilize heavily impacted hospitals and to assist with fatality management. With help from partners from throughout the region and the effective use of HPP funding, LAC EMS Agency was able to stabilize heavily impacted hospitals and avoid the need for implementation of CSC.
To learn more, see the Hospital Association of Southern California’s
In the Spotlight story from Cathy Chidester, Director of LAC EMS Agency.