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East L.A. Hospital Shuts Down Emergency Room

A hearing today may decide whether the entire 110-bed Elastar center will be closed.

August 13, 2004|Steve Hymon | Times Staff Writer

Elastar Community Hospital in East Los Angeles closed its emergency room this week, and the rest of the hospital might soon follow, hospital officials said.

The 110-bed hospital has been in operation for nearly 90 years and serves mostly Latino patients. It has struggled financially since the 1990s. In 2002, the facility, then named Santa Marta Hospital, was purchased by two healthcare professionals.

They filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last fall. Last Friday, the hospital was placed under the guidance of a court-appointed trustee, according to records filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

A hearing in that court this morning may determine whether the trustee will immediately close the rest of the hospital or keep it open while a buyer is sought. The trustee, Brad Krasnoff, could not be reached for comment.

After the emergency room closed Monday, the number of patients admitted to the hospital dwindled. As of Thursday evening, only 25 patients remained, said Starlette Abad, the hospital's director of business development.

She said most staff members had left.

Elastar had a busy ER that treated more than 13,000 patients each year, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

Those patients will probably now go to White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights or East Los Angeles Doctors Hospital.

Carol Meyer, director of Los Angeles County's Emergency Medical Services Agency, said the loss of Elastar's ER will impact local residents in need of emergency medicine.

"What's going to be significant is the waiting times when you get to the other hospitals that are even busier now because of the volume of people displaced," Meyer said.

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