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Hidden Holocaust: Young Californian, turned away by urgent care facility because he was uninsured dies of cardiac arrest due to coronavirus

[WE HAVE GATS AND DISHONEST POLITICIANS AND MEDIA TO THANK FOR THIS] We still don’t know much about the 17-year-old who may have died of COVID-19 in California. He lived in the city of Lancaster; his father, also sick, is an Uber driver. He had no known preexisting conditions, and no health insurance either, according to a new Gizmodo report. In a YouTube video, Rex Parris, the mayor of Lancaster, suggested the teenager’s lack of insurance contributed to his death. When the sick teen reported to urgent care, staff allegedly turned him away. “He didn’t have insurance, so they did not treat him,” Parris said. Instead, they told him to go to a nearby public hospital. He tried. But the delay may have cost him his life. “En route to AV Hospital, he went into cardiac arrest. When he got to AV Hospital they were able to revive him and keep him alive for about six hours,” Parris continued. “But by the time he got there, it was too late.” Though the teen tested positive for COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have launched an investigation into his death to rule out any other medical factors in his death. But he wouldn’t be the only COVID-19 patient to die partly because of a lack of health insurance. A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, woman died from the virus after she refused to go to the hospital for care. “She didn’t have insurance. She thought she might not be able to pay the bills,” her son told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. There are probably other cases like theirs, and behind each one, a person killed by our collective failure to protect them. About 45 percent of American adults were either uninsured or underinsured in 2018, the Commonwealth Fund estimates. Those people are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of any pandemic. They’re more likely to wait to seek care for fear of the expense, or to go entirely without it, and their ranks will increase over the next weeks and months. Because we tie health insurance to employment, a COVID-connected recession could potentially strand thousands, if not millions, without secure access to health care in the middle of a pandemic. Our health-care system is not the best in the world, as the New York Times credulously claimed a few days ago. It is failing. Heavily privatized, dependent on the whims of industry and the vagaries of insurance companies, it is collapsing under the weight of a crisis. Rural hospitals continue to close for lack of funds, and leave the communities they serve without quick access to care. Even in wealthy, urban areas, doctors and nurses don’t have enough masks, enough ventilators, enough protective shields, enough scrubs. In Philadelphia, city officials tried and failed to convince the millionaire owner of Paladin Healthcare, Joel Freedman, to lease them the public hospital he purchased and closed last summer. Sprawling corporations donate masks here and there. But charity can’t plug the gaps through which the poor and the dying fall. Health care is a public good. Policy-makers just don’t treat it that way, and now we’re reaping what they’ve sown.

ICU beds already near capacity with non-coronavirus patients at L.A. County hospitals

ICU beds at Los Angeles County hospitals are already at or near capacity, prompting worries of shortages ahead of expected coronavirus surge By MATT STILES, IRIS LEE MARCH 20, 20204:27 PM Intensive care beds at Los Angeles County’s emergency-room hospitals are already at or near capacity, even as those facilities have doubled the number available for COVID-19 patients in recent days, according to newly released data obtained by The Times. Fewer than 200 ICU beds were available Wednesday, with most ICU beds occupied by non-coronavirus patients, according to the data which covers the roughly 70 public and private hospitals in Los Angeles County that receive emergency patients. The figures, which haven’t been disclosed previously, offer the first real-time glimpse of capacity levels at hospitals from Long Beach to the Antelope Valley and raise fresh worries that the hospital system, which is already strained by shortages, could soon run short of beds. “I am very concerned. We have a limited number of ICU beds available in L.A. County,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who urged residents to heed social-distancing orders to reduce infection rates and strain on medical resources. “I would like to begin exploring every possible solution to increase the capacity of our hospital system, including building pop-up hospital sites.” The anticipated surge of coronavirus patients is setting off a scramble to increase capacity of all types of beds, some of which could be converted to ICU units, according to county health officials. To accomplish that, hospitals are halting elective services to open up more space, and are considering other plans to expand capacity, including converting existing space or erecting tents. That effort shows in the figures, with the number of beds overall nearly doubling in the last several days — from 624 on March 13 to 1,182 as of Wednesday. That change includes an increase of ICU beds, which have more equipment and a higher staff-to-patient ratio, from 85 to 191, according to the figures. Christina Ghaly, a physician who directs the county’s vast system of providers, clinics, and hospitals known as the Department of Health Services, said hospitals can add ICU beds by converting existing space. That entails equipping beds with special equipment and adding personnel and, in some cases, getting approval from state regulators. Rooms could also be opened in non-emergency room hospitals, which aren’t included in the current figures. “The hospitals across the entire county are working very hard to free up capacity, and also to create capacity,” said Ghaly. County officials stressed that the figures represent the current staffing needs by hospitals, which have a greater “surge” capacity as more patients get sick. She said they are also asking state officials to fast-track additional capacity. But despite the progress, as many as 90% percent of licensed ICU beds are already occupied with patients who have suffered other medical emergencies, such as heart attacks, car accidents and other cases, according Ghaly said.