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UCLA

Crossing one street takes hospital years of planning

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By Judy Lin

Published Apr 1, 2008 8:00 AM


All systems are just about "go" at the gleaming new Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center: The new hospital recently received its Certificate of Occupancy for Inpatient Care from the state, certifying more than 65,000 items essential to running a modern medical center. With that major milestone met, the hospital is prepping for a final inspection by the California Department of Public Health. Some 6,500 staff have been trained, and 70 administrators have already relocated to their new clinical units.

Next comes the hard part: moving patients into the new facility, complete with respiratory equipment, monitors, medication drips and everything else required to keep them safe during the short but daunting transport across Westwood Boulevard.

Aiming for a spring move date, a meticulously trained army of nurses, porters, lift teams, respiratory therapists, ambulance drivers and others are readying to move 375 patients out of the old hospital and into the new. This extraordinary task, which has been years in the making, has been planned with D-Day precision — each move timed with a stopwatch — to assure that everything goes without a hitch.

Neuropsychiatric patients will move first, at 5:30 a.m., via ambulances, wheelchair-accessible vans and shuttle buses. At 7 a.m., two moving teams designated Blue and Gold will start general hospital patients on their 15-minute bed-to-bed journey, while a Red Team will move 20 babies from the Neointensive Care Unit and as many as 10 critical patients, whose transport will take more time. A command center and two-way radio communication will keep the convoys of patients and staff running smoothly throughout the day.

Orchestrating these complex logistics is Richard Azar, director of transition planning, backed up by a core team from several health sciences departments, along with UCPD, Campus Events and Transportation Services, and a moving company that specializes in hospital moves.

"It's been an incredible process," Azar said. "Everyone has been exceptional in their commitment and energy. I have complete confidence that everything will proceed as planned."

At UCLA Medical Center, patient "senders" will oversee the process of prepping patients, gathering up equipment, coordinating staff to accompany them and sending them on designated routes through winding hallways and down elevators to an ambulance waiting area. From there, patients will be transported along a pre-planned route protected from traffic by street closures and police officers.

At the new hospital, transport teams will be greeted by "receivers," who will dispatch patients to their brand-new hospital rooms. Throughout the move, pharmacists and food service workers will be taking care of patients' needs.

Logistics manager Jennifer Prag said that two mock moves have gone very well. "We will continue practicing and refining our procedures — including a final mock move on April 19 — to ensure that we are completely prepared."

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Azar, who adds that he and others have been putting in "unbelievable hours" during these final weeks. "It'll be wonderful to finally move into the new hospital. It's everything we've been working so hard toward."

For details, go to www.mednet.ucla.edu and follow the link to "Transition Planning" at the bottom of the page. To view a video of a mock move, see http://streaming.uclahealth.org/mockmove.

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