DOWNTOWN — With the impending closure of Interstate 405 just days away, local hospitals are preparing to keep things swift and smooth this weekend.
Sarah Phelan, spokeswoman for Saint John’s Health Center, said the hospital’s departments have modified their weekend schedules to maximize the use of local staff so commuters won’t have to brave the traffic.
Elective procedures have also been moved to clear the hospital’s schedule from Friday afternoon to Monday morning.
“We will still have a full, on-call staff to perform emergency procedures, but anything that can wait until after (the freeway reopens) will,” she said.
Preparation will be key as hospitals cope with what is expected to be epic gridlock.
A 10-mile stretch of freeway between Interstate 10 and the U.S. Route 101 will shut down from July 16-17. State officials will be closing this portion of the 405 North along with a 4-mile slice of the 405 South, from the 101 to the Getty Center exit, because of a scheduled demolition of the Mulholland Drive bridge.
Officials at the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital are also looking into rescheduling elective procedures, according to a statement released Monday.
Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center staff are working to lodge commuter staff in nearby facilities to be prepared for an emergency response.
“On our Santa Monica campus, we plan to house staff members in the vacant North Wing of our new hospital, which is scheduled to open in January,” said Posie Carpenter, chief administrative officer for Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, in the statement.
Saint John’s also plans to house 50 hospital staffers who do not live in the immediate Santa Monica area. Commuter staff will be staying at local hotels or the homes of local hospital staffers.
“Everyone’s stepping up,” Phelan said. “We are doing everything to make sure we have normal patient care.”
The Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center echoed those sentiments as it pledged to collaborate with local hospitals, EMS providers and other emergency management personnel to ensure patient safety.
Both hospitals urge individuals to call 911 in the event of a medical emergency during “Carmageddon” weekend. Those who attempt to drive to the hospital will likely be met with severe traffic delays.
Residents can check the status of the traffic around the 405 area on www.uclahealth.org/405 and www.metro.net/405.