The Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a $4.1 million expansion of psychiatric emergency services at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, cited for overcrowding and insufficient patient privacy.
The project will renovate vacant space to create two more holding areas, almost doubling patient capacity from the current 12 to 23.
As of June 2012, the patient count at the emergency facility regularly exceeded 20 and in peak periods reached 30 or more, according to county Chief Executive Officer William Fujioka. Some patients were forced to sleep on mattresses on the floor, though Dr. Mitchell Katz, the director of the county's hospital system, assured the board that they were still cared for in a "safe environment."
The primary purpose of the emergency facility is to stabilize patients with acute psychiatric symptoms and refer them to other resources for care, though some need to remain on site for more than 24 hours.
In addition to creating more space, county officials have sought to drop the number of patients coming into emergency rooms by educating law enforcement officers about what other resources are available for the mentally ill and eliminating bureaucratic red tape and other obstacles to moving patients to longer-term care.
The $4.1 million renovation will also add a nurse station, four seclusion rooms and support areas including a medication room, storage, office space and restrooms.
The extra space will allow healthcare workers to separate adults from adolescent patients, according to board documents.
The existing facility is expected to remain operational throughout construction, scheduled to be completed in May 2015.