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The Veterans Administration in Westwood has curtailed operations following an electrical fire. Investigators say the cause has not been determined. The recent heat wave is not being ruled out and is not making the situation easier. Patrick Healy reports from Westwood for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on August 13, 2012.
It could be several more days before the West Los Angeles VA medical center is able to resume performing surgeries, according to a statement issued Monday following an electrical fire left the hospital reliant on backup generators.
The hospital "notified patients that all surgeries, elective procedures, and diagnostic appointments are canceled" through Aug. 14. "Future procedures will continue to be assessed on a day by day basis."
The emergency department remains open, but on a "restricted basis," hospital officials said.
Fifteen surgeries were postponed Monday, according to Wileen Hernandez, spokeswoman for the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.
With the backup system now online, the hospital needs a second layer of backup in place before resuming procedures, Hernandez said.
The Sunday fire ignited just south of the main hospital and inside the separate Building 501, which houses electrical equipment including transformers. Power to the Westwood VA campus is provided by Southern California Edison.
The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, according to Paul Klein, an Edison spokesman. That the ongoing heat wave may have been a factor has not been ruled out, Klein said.
Crews were at work inside Building 501 Sunday. Repairs could take five to seven days, the statement indicated.
Signs posted at entrances advise would-be visitors that because of the electrical situation, only patients may enter. The air conditioning system is operating, but some of the elevators have been idled.
Staff have been advised to shut off nonessential lighting and computer equipment, Hernandez said.
Waiting outside the hospital for a bus ride home to Santa Maria, two Air Force veterans said they were grateful to have gotten their appointments in.
They said they were not aware of the electrical issue when they left early in the morning. Two veterans who rode down with them learned that their procedures would have to be postponed.