Southern California braces for another September heat wave, expected to top 100 degrees. But what about those of us in the South and Southwest who can’t cool off? Do you have to worry about going to the doctor or doctor’s office because the hospital is sweltering?
Yes. Unfortunately, in many of our southern and southwestern counties, it is not unusual for the heat to get into the hospital and hospital emergency rooms.
In Los Angeles County, where temperatures in some areas are as high as 135 degrees in the summer, patients often are asked, “Do you have to come back to the hospital?” “I’d like to leave, but there’s no air conditioning — can you please move my bed?”
Yes, we get it. If a hospital is not air-conditioned, the smell and the heat can be terrible. And there is no air conditioning in most emergency rooms in Los Angeles County, so it is hard to tell if an extremely hot emergency room in a rural county actually is air-conditioned, or if it really does not have air conditioning.
As a result, you can drive your children to school in your car, ride your bike to work, and sit in an air-conditioned office.
But hospitals in Southern California can get really hot. And our hospitals can become very crowded — especially if they are located near the coast.
In Los Angeles County, there are 784,000 hospital beds and there are about 14,049 emergency rooms; we have six emergency rooms for every 1,000 people. That’s a ratio of 1 hospital for every 50,000 residents.
Last year, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which is dedicated to finding ways of lowering health care costs, analyzed the number of patients who came to the emergency room with heat related illnesses.
They found that, last year, there were 1,865 heat related hospital visits in Los Angeles County.
But that doesn’t count all the other