Earthquake Impact Still Being Felt as New Projects Start
by Laurence Darmiento
The Northridge earthquake is turning out to be a big driver of change in the region’s hospital industry.
Ground will break next month on a project to transform the downtown campus of Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital, which suffered structural damage in the 1994 earthquake.
The 91-year-old non-profit received $32.3 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the $80 million project. The rest is coming from bonds being repaid by a capital campaign.
The transformation will move the hospital’s inpatient services to the west side, where it will be housed in a wing of the new Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital under an agreement the hospital has struck with the university. That facility, another recipient of FEMA funds, is under construction and slated for completion in 2005.
The downtown campus, meanwhile, will be converted into an expanded outpatient clinic, a pediatric dental clinic and a medical magnet high school of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The project will allow the orthopedic medical center’s physical plant to catch up with technological advances and the state of medicine today, in which 60 percent of orthopedic procedures are done on an outpatient basis.
While the project will expand the hospital’s services, it is also projected to lower its annual $27 million in operating costs, since its inpatient facility will now be part of a larger hospital.
Other construction projects that have received big federal funding after the earthquake include the new Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, which received over $400 million in federal funds.
Star Healthcare Group of Newport Beach announced last week that it completed its $4.5 million purchase of Santa Marta Hospital in East Los Angeles from Carondolet Health Systems Inc.
The sale was finalized after the state Attorney General’s office and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles approved the transfer of the 110-bed hospital from non-profit Carondolet, a Catholic system, to Star, a for-profit.
As part of the sale, Star has agreed to operate the hospital under Catholic healthcare directives, which prohibit, for example, abortions from being performed at the facility.
Bad news abounds about the county’s health care system, but here’s some good news: the military has arrived this summer to help out.
The U.S. Navy has established a program at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center intended to help its medical personnel get experience in treating trauma victims with bullet wounds similar to wartime.
A team of 10 doctors, nurses and other health care professionals has been integrated into trauma staff and will serve as the liaison for as many as 24 other military medical personnel who will be rotated in monthly.
Staff Reporter Laurence Darmiento can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 237 or at