San Fernando Valley ERs Overcrowded, Turn Away Patients, Study Finds
Hospital closures, a lack of emergency room beds and a rise in chronic conditions such as asthma are forcing overcrowded ERs in San Fernando Valley to "tur[n] away larger numbers of poor, uninsured patients," according to a study released today, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Valley Care Community Consortium analyzed data from more than 80 not-for-profit hospitals, clinics and health and social agencies that serve the valley's nearly two million residents. According to the study, ambulances spent 32,032 hours transporting diverted patients to other hospitals last year, up from 12,395 hours in 1997. The Times reports that the study's findings "mirror" numbers for the rest of Los Angeles County and the nation. Neelam Gupta, a program coordinator for the consortium, said, "There are not enough beds. This puts lives at risk." Although the report does not offer "detailed recommendations," it suggests expanding nonemergency care hours past regular work hours and providing programs to educate residents on the "appropriate use of emergency rooms" (Sauerwein, Los Angeles Times, 8/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.