Overcrowding at County-USC Medical Center

A new report shows Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center was "dangerously overcrowded" during parts of May

Overcrowding has been a problem at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for decades, but on Tuesday, a new report says the hospital was "dangerously overcrowded" during parts of May.

But, "dangerously overcrowded" did not mean the hospital is over capacity. A hospital spokesperson said the number of admissions to County-USC's emergency room has been steady.

The problem is County-USC is a county hospital where people are not turned away even if they do not have health insurance.

Because those patients don't receive routine medical care, by the time they arrive at the hospital their conditions are generally much more serious.

Carol Meyer, the health services department's chief network officer, told the Los Angeles Times, those patients require more time to treat, and severely sick patients cannot be transferred to other hospitals until they are stabilized.

And the hospital does not have as many beds as they used to.

County-USC moved into a new, smaller facility in November 2008, and although the $1.02-billion hospital has a bigger emergency room with 40 percent more beds, there are 25 percent fewer beds for patients admitted to the hospital, the L.A. Times reported.

While the old hospital could admit as more than 800 patients, the new facility can only serve a maximum 600 people, according to the L.A. Times. Critics say this amount of beds is not enough to serve the demand for public hospital services.

The report by the County Health Services Department is presented to the Board of Supervisors, which oversees the hospital, bi-monthly.

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