In the midst of the Saddleridge and Wendy fires, hospitals in the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and Antelope valleys remain open and look to make sure departments are adequately staffed, despite closures of major freeways.
“Numerous caregivers have navigated around closed freeways to help ensure our patients continue to receive the appropriate level of care,” a representative with Dignity Health – Northridge Hospital Medical Center said in a statement. “We are currently evaluating our clinical resources to ensure we continue to provide high-quality care in a safe and healing environment.”
As of 1 p.m., most main arteries into and out of Santa Clarita have closed, including the northbound 5 freeway from Roxford Street in Sylmar to Calgrove Boulevard; the 210 freeway in both directions between the 118 and 5 freeways; northbound 405 freeway at the 118 freeway; and the southbound 14 freeway from the 126 highway to the 5 freeway, according to a report from the Los Angeles Fire Department.
“Our biggest concern is whether staff can get here,” said Patrick Moody, public relations representative with Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia. “We have activated our emergency operations center just so we can monitor staffing levels.”
Some elective surgeries have been cancelled and are set to be rescheduled in the coming weeks, according to Northridge’s statement. Kaiser Permanente echoed this precaution for its Santa Clarita medical offices on Tourney Road.
Kaiser’s medical office buildings in Porter Ranch and Sylmar are temporarily closed, according to a statement from the health care organization, and will remain closed over the weekend. Kaiser's Santa Clarita Offices 1 will also be closed over the weekend. Physicians and employees from affected areas have been sent to keep other facilities open, Kaiser said.
According to Dr. Kirsten Mewaldt, emergency medicine physician at Northridge Hospital, medical centers have seen an uptick in asthma exacerbation in addition to staff issues, with the negative impact on air quality.
“It always makes for a busy time in the ER,” Mewaldt told the Business Journal. “What we did see is emergency departments are really family. … Those individuals that were free stepped up and came in to help with any coverage issues we had.”
Hospitals in Antelope Valley have had minimal impact, according to Veronica Knudson, chief operating officer of Palmdale Regional Medical Center.
“We’ve had some staff that haven’t been able to get in, but not a lot,” she added.