L.A. council members ask hospital to delay closure plans

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LOS ANGELES — Two Los Angeles City Council members are urging the operators of Olympia Medical Center to delay its planned closure on March 31 by at least six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resolution, which was introduced by Councilwoman Nithya Raman and Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, urges Alecto Healthcare, which is selling the hospital to UCLA Health, to work with UCLA to ensure medical care at the hospital, located at 5900 W. Olympic Blvd., in the Mid-Wilshire area, remains available during the pandemic.

There are only a few dozen ICU beds currently available in Los Angeles County, and hospitals near Olympia Medical Center to which patients are being referred are already severely understaffed,” the resolution stated.

According to the council members, the hospital largely serves Black, Latino and low-income residents, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The hospital’s staff has reported “severe shortfalls in patient care in anticipation of the closure,” the motion said.

Alecto Healthcare announced on Dec. 31 that the hospital would close.

At the end of January, the center shut down a general medical surgical floor of the hospital, even as the facility continues to treat COVID-19 patients.

“Alecto has demonstrated an appalling indifference to public outrage about this closure, and the consequences of terminating a vital public health resource with Los Angeles residents still being hospitalized and dying every day from COVID-19,” said California Nurses Association President Zenei Cortez.

Cortez encouraged UCLA Health to immediately take over operation of the center and maintain it as a full-service hospital.

Frontline health care workers in the city of Los Angeles are stretched beyond our limits,” UCLA emergency room nurse Marcia Santini said. “Our ICU bed capacity has been at zero percent for months.”

“Unless UCLA management will commit to maintaining Olympia as a full-service hospital for the good of the community, they will be turning their back on the community of L.A. at a time when patients need them the most. UCLA nurses demand that UCLA management put patients over profits and take over the operation of Olympia Medical Center immediately,” Santini added.

At a public hearing of the Los Angeles County Emergency Services Commission, Olympia nurse Belma Hartano said, “If Alecto is not going to keep the hospital open, we have to tell UCLA they have to operate the hospital.”

County Commissioner John Hisserich said that the “UC Regents clearly have some responsibility.” 

A representative of the Culver City Fire Department warned the commission of dangerous delays in patient transport if Olympia closes, which would disrupt the entire emergency medical system.

Longer transports of patients, and often holds before patients can be admitted due to lack of available beds, would likely lead to a decrease in the number of ambulances and paramedics available.

According to the City Council motion, the deal with UCLA prevents the hospital from providing care beyond March 31.

If adopted by the council and approved by Mayor Eric Garcetti, the resolution would not carry any power to keep the hospital open but would have the city on record as urging Alecto Healthcare and UCLA Health to ensure the hospital provides care during the pandemic.

It would also support the County of Los Angeles’ Emergency Medical Services Agency’s efforts to have Alecto Healthcare, UCLA Health and the Olympia Medical Center delay the closure by at least six months.

Frontline healthcare workers in the city of Los Angeles are stretched beyond our limits. Our ICU bed capacity has been at zero percent for months,” said UCLA ER RN Marcia Santini.

“Unless UCLA management will commit to maintaining Olympia as a full-service hospital for the good of the community, they will be turning their back on the community of LA at a time when patients need them the most. UCLA nurses demand that UCLA management put patients over profits and take over the operating of Olympia Medical Center immediately,” Santini said.

At a public hearing of the Los Angeles County Emergency Services Commission, Olympia nurse Belma Hartano said, “If Alecto is not going to keep the hospital open, we have to tell UCLA they have to operate the hospital.”

Olympia treated more than 2,000 COVID-19 patients over the past year, and it continues to be filled with COVID-19 patientsAlecto is seeking to close the hospital even after it received more than $27.6 million in combined COVID stimulus money and advance Medicare payments in 2020.

Several speakers at the county commission meeting called for an audit of how Alecto has spent that public funding.

 

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