L.A. County Surge Hospital to Treat Expected Increase of COVID-19 Patients

Los Angeles County is working with the Governor’s office and contracted health workers to temporarily re-open the recently closed St. Vincent Medical Center to act as a transfer facility for COVID positive patients. – Courtesy photo / Los Angeles County)

Governor Gavin Newsom Monday announced the establishment of the Los Angeles Surge Hospital, a temporary facility in Los Angeles that will expand access to additional beds and expand ICU capacity for patients who contract COVID-19. Dignity Health and Kaiser Permanente will partner with the State of California and the County of Los Angeles to open the facility, which will be located on the campus of the former St. Vincent Medical Center in central Los Angeles.

Last month, under his Declaration of State Emergency and Executive Order, Governor Newsom authorized the leasing of facilities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the recently closed St. Vincent Medical Center. The hospital will create additional inpatient capacity in the community to treat the expected surge of patients with COVID-19 in the coming weeks. The facility will operate as a dedicated referral hospital and will not have an emergency room or accept walk-in patients. The County of Los Angeles’ Department of Health Services will play a critical role in coordinating intake and transfer requests from hospitals across the County.

The Los Angeles Surge Hospital is expected to open April 13.  It will open in phases, ramping up to accept more patients as physicians and staff are hired and supplies and equipment are secured, up to a projected capacity of 266 beds when fully operational.   

The State of California will fund the hospital and its operations and will be responsible for obtaining all federal and state permits, licenses, and waivers to operate. The State is also responsible for procuring critical equipment and supplies, such as personal protective equipment and ventilators.

Dignity Health and Kaiser Permanente, two of California’s largest not-for-profit healthcare systems, are providing expertise in establishing the Los Angeles Surge Hospital and will oversee management at the facility. Operational support will not diminish either healthcare system’s existing frontline capacity.

“L.A. County has the largest concentration of confirmed COVID-19 cases in California. A time like this demands leadership, partnership, and collaboration—and I applaud my fellow leaders and our community partners who have risen to that challenge with aplomb,” said L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “Gov. Newsom’s swift effort to utilize the space at St. Vincent’s, and the collaboration of our private partners to operationalize this along with the Department of Health Services, is a true testament to the strength of our community here in Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles Surge Hospital is one component of our county’s comprehensive effort to respond to the need for surge capacity as we come together to serve our community.” 

“I applaud Gov. Newsom’s bold and decisive action to temporarily transform the St. Vincent Medical Center into a surge hospital that will help individuals exposed to COVID-19,” said L.A. County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis.  “Under my direction, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services will provide transportation, referrals and other support in tandem with Kaiser Permanente and Dignity Health to expedite the opening of this temporary hospital on the St. Vincent campus.  Once operational, the facility will serve the region with the primary mission of increasing hospital capacity to care for patients with COVID-19 and helping slow the spread of this pandemic. This facility, located in the heart of my Supervisorial First District, will address our urgent health care needs through this unique public-private partnership among the State of California, L.A. County, Kaiser Permanente, and Dignity Health. No one stands alone in this critical moment, and I thank each partner for coming together to treat COVID-19 patients and for ensuring our communities remain safe and healthy.”

“The opening of this COVID treatment facility speaks to the power of partnership at a critical moment, united in our shared mission of service to our communities as we confront this pandemic,” said Dr. Christina Ghaly, director for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS). “We are grateful for the vision and support of the State of California, and the ingenuity and commitment of Kaiser Permanente and Dignity Health to open this medical facility at lighting speed, bolstering the resilience of our County’s healthcare system and our ability to meet the medical needs of those impacted by this terrible virus.”

“As we confront an unprecedented public health crisis, we are honored to be able to continue our legacy of service as part of this unique public-private partnership to expand access to additional beds as the COVID-19 threat continues to evolve,” said Lloyd H. Dean – CEO of CommonSpirit Health, which includes Dignity Health hospitals. “More than ever, this is the time for our communities to come together to care for people affected by this disease. We have worked with each of these partners over time, and this groundbreaking collaboration will help meet the urgent demand for health care services in California.” 

– Courtesy photo / Los Angeles County

“Beating this pandemic requires all of us to work together, nimbly and creatively, and there is no better proof of that than our collective work to stand up this surge hospital in a matter of days,” said Greg Adams, Kaiser Permanente’s chairman and CEO. “This temporary hospital will add much needed resources to help us safely meet the needs of an expected surge of patients affected by this pandemic. We are proud to be able to help launch it, and appreciate California’s leadership and collaboration as we look to leverage every resource available to fight COVID-19.”

Julie Sprengel, president of Dignity Health’s Southwest Division, will serve as acting CEO. David Quam, MD, who served in multiple leadership roles for Kaiser Permanente, will be the chief medical officer. Jason Black, RN, formerly of Dignity Health, will be the chief nursing executive. Additional leaders will be selected in the coming days.


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