Blood shortage temporarily closes California hospital's trauma center

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The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services said blood shortages forced the trauma center at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center to close for several hours on Jan. 10, The Los Angeles Times reported. 

It's a step that hasn't been taken in LA County in more than 30 years. 

"I can't emphasize enough just how urgent and critical this blood shortage is for LA County residents," Marianne Gausche-Hill, MD, medical director of the county's EMS agency, said during a Jan. 12 update, according to the LA Times. 

Blood shortages on top of staff shortages and rising COVID-19 hospitalizations could affect hospitals' ability to provide care "in much more serious ways" than last winter's surge, warned Christina Ghaly, MD, the director of the health services department. 

"Closing down a trauma center in [the] middle of a COVID-19 surge — when hospitals and ambulance providers are already struggling and when emergency departments are already strained — can result in dangerous delays to patients in need of urgent lifesaving medical attention," Dr. Ghaly said in a statement, adding that trauma centers could soon be closed more frequently and for longer periods of time unless the region's blood banks prioritize limited supply for designated trauma centers, according to the LA Times. 

News of the temporary trauma center closure is a tangible outcome of the nations' first-ever national blood crisis, which the American Red Cross declared Jan. 11. 

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