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Carmageddon: 'Business as usual' at UCLA hospitals, officials say

July 16, 2011 | 10:23 am

Despite concerns about the preparedness of area hospitals during "Carmageddon," officials at the UCLA Health System said everything was "business as usual" Saturday morning.

The UCLA Health System -- which includes Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA, Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA and Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, as well as more than 80 offices and outpatient clinics -- had an elaborate contingency plan in place to deal with the freeway closure -- and so far it's worked, officials said.

Photos: 'Carmageddon' closes the 405 Freeway

More than 150 nurses and staff members spent Friday night in UCLA dorms, UCLA’s Tiverton House and in some sections of the hospitals to avoid long commutes, officials said. About 1,900 employees made it to work on time Saturday morning.

Hospitals also stocked up on extra medical supplies and postponed nonemergency surgeries for the weekend, officials said. Extra staff -- including plumbers and air-conditioning technicians -- are also on hand to prevent any potential problems.

"We are ready and fully prepared to handle any emergency," Shannon O'Kelley, chief operating officer for the UCLA Health System, said in a statement.

Still, O'Kelley urged the public to call 911 in case of a medical emergency instead of driving to a hospital in case of construction-related traffic snarls.

"This will ensure the patient will get to an emergency department by ambulance if the medical situation warrants," O'Kelley said.


Full coverage: All you need to know about the 405 shutdown

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Carmageddon: 'Impressive start' to freeway project, officials say

-- Kate Mather

Photo: Hospital custodians Orlando Rojas, left, and Blanca Rodriguez set up cots for UCLA medical personnel ahead of Carmageddon at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. Credit: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press