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Acute-Care Hospitals Facing Shortage of Beds

August 21, 1986

Los Angeles County's acute-care hospitals are experiencing a paucity of available beds as a result of summertime staff shortages and a seasonally higher patient load, officials said Wednesday, adding that they are trying to recruit enough nurses to ease the problem.

A spokeswoman for the county Department of Health Service denied a report Wednesday that patients going directly to county hospitals are being put into temporary beds in the halls.

Paul Drozd, executive director of County-USC Medical Center, agreed with that spokeswoman, saying he knows of no patients being quartered in the hallways. That happens occasionally, he said, particularly at Women's Hospital, when there are an unusually high number of baby deliveries. But "when we do that, we automatically notify the state Department of Health," he said.

Staffing Shortage Cited

Drozd said the county's hospitals normally accept 400 to 500 referrals a week from private or community hospitals but that in the last week they have been unable to accommodate about 100 referrals because of the staffing shortage.

He said the county already has recruited enough nurses to open up 10 more beds and will probably have another 16 or so open within "the next couple of days" and more than 20 more in a week. Drozd said he does not expect the high volume of patients at the county's acute hospitals--County-USC, Martin Luther King, Harbor-UCLA and Olive View--to last beyond mid-September.

He said that although the county's hospitals did not face the same situation last year, they did in both 1983 and 1984.

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