ReBuild Barlow: Palisadians Participate in Historic Barlow Respiratory Hospital Renovations

The historic Barlow Respiratory Hospital in Elysian Park is engaged in a fundraising campaign to renovate and update its facilities—with help from two Palisadian board members.

“My mother had emphysema and eventually ended up at Barlow because she couldn’t breathe on her own,” Barlow Hospital Foundation Board Member and Palisadian Nancy Katayama told the Palisadian-Post. “That’s how I got to know Barlow. She received the best care in terms of respiratory support. I felt like I could trust the people at Barlow.”

In 2018, CEO Amit Mohan announced the ReBuild Barlow campaign to create a new hospital within the walls of the old.

“Our patients are referred to us from the finest hospitals in Los Angeles,” Mohan shared with the Post. “They are the sickest of the sick and often stay with us for weeks for post-ICU care.”

Mohan explained that the main hospital was built in 1927.

“As medical science has advanced, we have continued to add equipment for patient care,” Mohan added. “But our patient rooms are grossly inadequate to accommodate that equipment. Rooms are small and cramped and lack privacy for patients and families … Our Master Plan to ReBuild Barlow creates a new hospital to serve patients and families for generations.”

Barlow Respiratory Hospital, the only nonprofit, long-term care hospital in the city of Los Angeles, began in 1902 as a tuberculosis sanatorium, explaining the cottages, library, guildhouse and chicken coops that dot the lush hospital grounds.

In the 1960s, the sanatorium became a hospital for chronic respiratory diseases, soon admitting patients weaning from prolonged mechanical ventilation. In 1995, the Barlow Respiratory Research Center was established, and in 1997 and 2007, satellite facilities opened in Whittier and Van Nuys.

Today, the hospital treats 750 patients each year, focusing on serving those with multiple or medically complex problems, as well as chronically ill patients dependent on a ventilator to breathe.

Barlow is known by Southern California doctors as a go-to referral for specialized post-ICU care, with patients usually transferred from intensive or critical care units, allowing patients the longer acute hospital stays necessary to progress to the next level of care or return home.

The expert interdisciplinary teams at Barlow include board-certified physicians, registered nurses and licensed therapists who work to ensure each patient receives the utmost in care and the speediest recuperation possible.

These experts, led by Barlow Medical Director Dr. David R. Nelson, a board-certified pulmonologist and associate professor of clinical medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, help families through prolonged recovery periods and establish discharge plans to help their patients regain their independence.

The future of the lobby

However, much is required to update and preserve the historic hospital, including the construction of a new therapy suite, radiology suite, surgical suite and pharmacy.

ReBuild Barlow also hopes to increase the number of beds in its private-bed ICU unit and increase the room size of its single and shared rooms. Due to the Hospital Seismic Safety Act, Barlow must also seismically retrofit the hospital building by 2020—a $10 million process already underway.

“The initial effort is to meet the seismic requirements … by 2020,” Barlow Board Member and Palisadian Don Iselin told the Post. “The next phase of construction is to reconfigure the inside of the hospital to make it more efficient, and to add those facilities … enlarge the size of the rooms—basically to try and provide a better environment because it’s a very old structure.”

“As a nonprofit, [the hospital] is pretty much self-sustaining,” Katayama added. “We’re hoping that people recognize the important work Barlow is doing for the community and consider it a cause worthy of donation.”

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