FAH Hospital Policy Blog

Perspectives on health policy affecting America's hospitals and the patients we serve.

Provider Relief Fund | FAH Policy Blog Team

New Podcast: How Ingenuity & Innovation Helped a Hotspot Hospital Save Lives During COVID Surge

As recently as a few weeks ago, COVID was continuing to ravage hospitals across the country as cases were surging following the December holidays and St. Francis Medical Center in Los Angeles County was at the middle of the storm.

“The entire emergency department was turned into a COVID unit. We took our emergency services to the streets, literally, with tents in the parking lots to triage patients, and…continuing to provide basic care to the community during the crisis, but also to ensure that we kept them safe,” Dan Jones, CEO of St. Francis said during the latest episode of the Hospitals in Focus podcast.

Jones joined FAH President and CEO Chip Kahn to discuss what it was like to run a hospital when both patient and hospital staff infection rates were at a crisis point and how being part of Prime Healthcare helped St. Francis survive and thrive.

“None of us were immune,” Jones said. “I actually came down with COVID before the Thanksgiving holiday. It literally took out my entire executive team and then subsequently probably half of our frontline leadership were out at any given time during the surge.”

St. Francis Medical Center, which is one of the busiest trauma centers in LA County, was at 120% capacity during the surge and still able to care for every patient that came through its doors.

“At the peak, we were over 160 COVID positive patients in-house (hospital has 384 beds). When you look at the number of days that we had over a hundred COVID patients in the hospital, it spans over seven weeks that we had over a hundred patients COVID positive, all the while managing our trauma center and our ER, and continuing the throughput and supporting our EMS agencies,” added Jones.

St. Francis recently became part of Prime Healthcare and Jones credits the health system for saving the hospital from the brink of bankruptcy.

“Prime’s team were always ahead of the curve with respect to equipment, supplies, PPE, respirators. This is an underserved community, safety net community, extremely diverse, unfortunately low income, and those that are in the greatest need for health care services. We’re going to be standing up our vaccine clinic here in the next few days, and we’ll be bringing that to the community. It’s just another way for us to engage and celebrate the 75-year history of St. Francis.”

He added, “Prime’s mission is to save and improve hospitals so we can continue to deliver compassionate and quality care and improve the communities that we serve. With the Prime corporate support and our ingenuity and frontline leadership, we were able to come through effectively.”