LA Hospitals "Prepared" For Natural Disaster

As local hospital administrators observe how East Coast hospitals are handling Sandy, they sought to reassure SoCal residents.

By Kathy Vara
|  Thursday, Nov 1, 2012  |  Updated 12:31 AM PDT
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Jim Lott, vice president of the Hospital Association of Southern California, explains what would happen to SoCal hospitals in the event of a massive natural disaster that packs a punch similar to Superstorm Sandy along the East Coast. Kathy Vara reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2012

Kathy Vara

Jim Lott, vice president of the Hospital Association of Southern California, explains what would happen to SoCal hospitals in the event of a massive natural disaster that packs a punch similar to Superstorm Sandy along the East Coast. Kathy Vara reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2012

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When Sandy roared ashore in New York City, dozens of ambulances lined up to evacuate patients from NYU Hospital.

Power at the hospital went out, and their back-up generators failed.

Keeping watch over the crisis in New York are local hospital administrators who said they already have a plan ready should Southern California face a natural disaster, like the devastating 1994 Northridge quake.

"We prepare for this kind of eventuality," said Jim Lott, with Hospital Association of Southern California. "Our disaster plans include and require that we have procedures in place."

Lott said hospital generators in California are located above ground on the perimeters of the hospital and inspected at least once a week.

"And we do have a complete shutdown and transfer to the back-up generator once a month," Lott said.

Dr. Amal Kamil Obaid, chief of trauma at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, said she's confident the generators will work in the event of a natural disaster.

Huntington Hospital has four generators that, in the event of an emergency, can be up and running in six seconds and last for up to 10 days.

But they also plan for the worst-case scenario.

“Should everything fail, we have facilities outside to take our patients,” she said. “We also have places around the hospital where we could evacuate patients.”

Hospital officials are closely watching the East Coast’s post-Sandy response, hoping lessons learned from the superstorm will only make the Southland more prepared if and when disaster strikes.

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