LOS ANGELES — If this were any other year, members of the Los Angeles Opera would have been singing Christmas carols this week in the wards of Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, which serves the largely poor and Latino communities of South Los Angeles. Instead, a street choir from Skid Row stepped in with a video to bring holiday cheer to the growing number of dying coronavirus patients and traumatized staff.
Inside the hospital, so many patients are streaming in that gurneys have been placed in the gift shop, and the entire lobby is now a space to treat patients. The waiting room is a tent outside.
“Everything is backed up all the way to the street,” said Dr. Oscar Casillas, the medical director of the hospital’s emergency department, which is set up to serve about 30 people at a time but over the last week has seen more than 100 patients per day.
In the High Desert region northeast of Los Angeles, health care workers at one hospital are getting their first shots of a coronavirus vaccine in a cheerful conference room decked out in holiday decorations. There is Christmas music, and “Home Alone 2” playing on a screen. Yet as soon as the needle is out of their arms, there is the next “code blue,” or the next FaceTime goodbye to arrange between a dying patient and a grieving family.
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