Four California hospitals have been included on a federal government list of 35 facilities "designated as Ebola treatment centers."
Two -- UC Davis Medical Center and Kaiser South Sacramento Medical Center -- are in the Sacramento region. Two others -- UC San Francisco Medical Center and Kaiser Oakland Medical Center -- are in the Bay Area.
None of the facilities listed Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are in Southern California, where more than half the state's population resides.
The curious distribution of the Ebola treatment centers in the state may have more to do with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's process of assessing readiness than any shortcomings in preparation efforts, officials suggested Tuesday, noting that Southern California facilities would probably join the list in about a week.
California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ronald Chapman said Tuesday that Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, UC San Diego Medical Center, UC Irvine Medical Center and Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center would be inspected by CDC teams this week.
Chapman said his agency "is confident the CDC visits in Southern California will result in recognition that these four hospitals can also serve as Ebola treatment centers for Californians if needed."
CDC Rapid Ebola Preparedness teams have been fanning out across the country to assess hospitals' ability to safely treat the disease. Their assessments do not authorize the hospitals to treat Ebola patients but rather serve as "measuring sticks" to help state and local officials designate where patients will go, CDC spokesman Jason McDonald said.
"We're not making the designation," McDonald said.
In October, the UCLA, UC San Diego, and UC Irvine medical centers had been included on a list of "priority" hospitals willing to treat Ebola patients in California, should any illnesses emerge. "The administration will support these hospitals in meeting this public health need in California," Chapman said in a statement at the time.
On Tuesday afternoon, L.A. County and state officials said that a hypothetical Ebola patient materializing in Southern California this week might still receive treatment at those hospitals as they awaited the CDC check.
"These medical centers stand ready to accept an Ebola patient if necessary," a county spokesman told The Times.
According to California's state health department, the Sacramento and Bay Area hospitals included on the federal list thus far have a total of eight beds available to care for Ebola patients. Currently, there are no suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease in California.