The 315-bed Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital is an integral component of UCLA Health System, designed to serve as the principal destination for primary and specialty care, freeing the Westwood hospital to treat the highest-acuity cases. This division allows each facility to focus on its areas of expertise, says Dr. Michael Herbst, medical director of Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, enabling the system to deliver all services in a coordinated and integrated fashion. “The idea is to have hospital facilities that are designed and operated in a way that optimizes those services to our patients,” he says.
Currently undergoing a major renovation, the Santa Monica hospital is scheduled to be completed in 2010. When it is done, the Santa Monica campus will boast more than 500,000 square feet of state-of-the-art facilities. The new structures replace all but the Merle Norman Pavilion from the previous hospital. The medical center embodies the best elements of two worlds, says Posie Carpenter, chief administrative officer of the Santa Monica hospital. “We want to retain the accessibility and friendliness of a community hospital,” she says. “At the same time, we benefit from being part of the greater UCLA Health System, which is known for not only its patient care but also its research and educational missions.”
A centerpiece of Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital is the Nethercutt Emergency Center, which was completely redesigned and expanded. It is the first emergency department on the Westside with an onsite 64-slice CT scanner. This capability allows for rapid diagnosis and treatment of such conditions as heart attacks and strokes. An upcoming fast-track system will provide prompt medical attention to patients with minor injuries and illnesses. The Nethercutt Emergency Center was the first STEMI (ST- elevation myocardial infarction) Receiving Center on the Westside; the Westwood hospital also is a STEMI receiving center. This means that the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services has designated the hospitals as a destination for paramedics transporting patients whose EKGs indicate possible heart attack. The strict criteria for this classification includes a requirement that no more than 90 minutes can elapse between the time the paramedics identify the STEMI to when the patient is in a cardiac catheterization lab undergoing angioplasty.
A 9,000-square-foot laboratory, featuring the latest chemistry, hematology and blood-bank analyzers, opened simultaneously with the new emergency center. Among the new facilities on the Santa Monica campus will be six operating rooms, a 22-bed critical-care unit and other inpatient units. The new birthing center, The Birth Place, which is located on contiguous floors in the Southwest Wing and Merle Norman Pavilion, opened earlier this year. It includes an elegantly designed labor-and-delivery unit, 16-bassinet neonatal-intensive-care unit, nursery and postpartum rooms.
The new facility also represents a 10-year collaboration with Orthopaedic Hospital, which has moved inpatient services from its downtown location to the Santa Monica hospital. Designing the new hospital from the ground up made for a “superb physical plant,” equipped for the information age and flexible enough to adapt to future needs, says Dr. Herbst. And that, he says, supports UCLA’s ultimate goal: “to provide care that’s uncommonly well coordinated, uncommonly caring and uncommonly high-tech.” - Nancy Sokoler Steiner