In an 11th hour move, the state Tuesday granted approval to St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard to shut down its emergency room at 7 a.m. today as part of a temporary closure to allow the hospital to prepare for mold fumigation.
The entire 265-bed hospital, which operates the busiest emergency room in Ventura County, will eventually close this month for two weeks in hopes of eradicating a mold problem that has plagued the hospital for most of its 15 years of operation.
In a letter signed Tuesday, Betty J. Smith, district administrator for the California Department of Public Health, said the department had approved St. John's emergency room closure. Other departments will close over the next week, starting with the intensive care unit.
On Aug. 14, all remaining patients will be transferred to other county hospitals so the facility can be tented.
Smith told hospital officials she wants to be notified immediately if they deviate from the plan. She also said a request in writing to reopen the facility would be required, along with an on-site visit "to determine whether the hospital is prepared for the care of patients."
St. John's President T. Michael Murray said last week he was confident the hospital would receive a green light from the state in time to adhere to the scheduled closure time-line, which had been discussed with area healthcare providers and planned for months.
Barry Fisher, administrator of Ventura County's emergency medical services agency, said St. John's daily treats more than 100 emergency patients, who will have to be re-routed to other facilities.