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Metropolitan Digest / LOS ANGELES COUNTY NEWS IN BRIEF

SANTA MONICA : Birth Is Hospital's First Since Quake Shut It Down

October 04, 1994

The birth of Baby Matthew signified more than a labor of love for the workers at St. Johns Medical Center.

His birth Monday morning was the first delivery at the hospital since the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake severely damaged the facility and prompted the evacuation of hundreds of patients, including actress Elizabeth Taylor.

"Not until it was abruptly taken from us on Jan. 17 did many of us realize how good we had it,' said Howard A. Cohen, president of the medical staff.

After undergoing a $32-million repair job, the hospital opened its doors Monday at 5 a.m., giving 1,000 employees a place to work again, said spokeswoman Trish Bartel. However, another 1,000 lost their jobs when the hospital decided not to rebuild its heavily damaged north wing and instead demolished the eight-story tower, Bartel said.

The quake forced everything but outpatient services to be shut down. The hospital reopened with 262 beds instead of the pre-quake number of 501 because treatment is increasingly being done through outpatient care, Bartel said.

One of the first procedures by hospital workers was to help deliver Matthew James Onda, who was born at 8:44 a.m. to Michelle Onda. Two more women were expected to give birth Monday, Bartel said.

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