Was County-USC hospital built too small?
Even before the doors opened on the $1.02-billion Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center many observers warned that the new hospital was too small. Now, more than a year and a half of experience appears to confirm it.
The overcrowding has become so intense that health officials asked County Supervisor Gloria Molina eight months ago what she would think if the hospital began placing patients in the hallways, the supervisor recalled in an interview.
"I said, 'Absolutely not. We will not have patients in the hallway,'" Molina said.
Instead, County-USC officials have increased patient transfers to other hospitals. Despite more than 2,000 such transfers since the November 2008 move into a building with 224 fewer beds, severe overcrowding is routine at the county's flagship public hospital. Few long-term options to relieve the burden are available.
Read Times reporter Rong-Gong Lin II's full story on overcrowding at USC.
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Photo: Facilities workers John Rader, right, and Carlos Herrera move barriers to allow ambulances into the new 600-bed County-USC Medical Center in 2008 to start transferring patients from the old facility, which had 224 more beds. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times