On Friday, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services proclaimed that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers experts are being mobilized to help six hospitals in L.A.
At the moment, the biggest struggle that LA county has is the delivery of oxygen to patients hospitalized due to coronavirus-related complications.
This move comes as a response to an increase in coronavirus cases. According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, there has been an average of between 10,000 and 20,000 newly confirmed coronavirus cases per day in L.A. County during December and January (9,142 on 01/05/2021).
This presents a significant surge from an average of around 5,000 new cases per day in November.
Of the newly confirmed patients, many needed to stay in hospital to receive adequate treatment for their ailment. PIH Health Hospital in Downey reported that the number of hospital coronavirus admissions rose from 9 in early November to 45 a month later.
An increase in hospital admissions put an additional strain on the intensive-care units. The county officials reported several days ago that there was a 1000% surge in the number of intensive-care patients as compared to two months ago.
As a result, according to the L.A. Times, some hospitals declared ‘internal disasters’ and temporarily stopped accepting new patients brought to them by ambulances.
Extremely sick patients needed to wait for as long as eight hours to receive beds at IC units. In order for space to be cleared up for these patients, recovering patients had to be prematurely discharged with oxygen tanks for home use.
The negative impact on other non-coronavirus patients
The burden hospitals experienced due to the high numbers of patients with coronavirus-related respiratory problems had a profoundly negative impact on other aspects of medical care.
Many procedures and surgeries had to be postponed to a later date as a consequence.
Amid such disturbances, the mobilization of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers comes as a relief. They are being deployed to assess the situation in each hospital and distribute additional oxygen supplies where needed.
The director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said that upgrading oxygen delivery to older hospitals will improve the ability to deliver life-sustaining medical care to the most vulnerable cases.
There is a hope that, in the coming days and weeks, aid provided by the U.S. Army coupled with an adherence to the protective measures against the novel coronavirus will ease the strain experienced by the L.A. County hospitals.
Doing so would avert the outcome predicted by the L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer that, if we do nothing, the negative coronavirus-related trends will ‘continue beyond January’.