L.A. County hospitals, at the breaking point, turn away ambulances

The front entrance of Community Hospital of Huntington Park was closed to the public Monday; the back of the building saw a steady stream of ambulances over the weekend, with one security guard saying the vehicles arrived as frequently as every half hour.

And Memorial Hospital of Gardena on Monday was running at 140% capacity, forcing officials to ask for a four-hour suspension of new ambulance calls so it could move patients. The hospital is struggling to keep enough oxygen and supplies on hand amid the crunch of COVID-19 patients who need it…

Hospitals are so inundated that they’ve resorted to placing patients in conference rooms and gift shops. But even so, many facilities are running out of space. Virtually all hospitals in L.A. County are being forced to divert ambulances with certain types of patients elsewhere during most hours. On Sunday, 94% of L.A. County hospitals that take in patients stemming from 911 calls were diverting some ambulances away.

“But soon, there won’t be any places for these ambulances to go,” said Dr. Christina Ghaly, the L.A. County health services director. “If every hospital is on diversion, then no hospital is on diversion.”