The richest state in the richest nation in a wealthy world is drawing up emergency plans in case they have to limit how many people receive life-saving care.
The number of people hospitalized across California with confirmed COVID-19 infections is forecasted to hit 75,000 patients by mid-January.
Rationing care is not in place yet, but they need to be established because “the worst is yet to come,” said Los Angeles County’s health services director, Dr. Christina Ghaly. Four hospitals run by Los Angeles County are weighing what to do if they cannot treat everyone because of a shortage of beds or staffers. Many hospitals in California already have implemented emergency procedures to stretch staff and space. Corona Regional Medical Center southeast of Los Angeles has converted an old emergency room to handle nearly double te usual number of ICU patients. It’s also using two disaster tents to triage ER patients. Overall, the state’s ICU capacity was just 2.1% on Sunday. Some hospitals have canceled non-essential elective surgeries
A document recently circulated among doctors at the four hospitals proposed that instead of trying to save every life, their goal could shift to saving as many patients as possible — meaning those less likely to survive would not get the same kind of care.
“Some compromise of standard of care is unavoidable; it is not that an entity, system or locale chooses to limit resources, it is that the resources are clearly not available to provide care in a regular manner,” said the document.