A partnership between Scripps Health, Sharp HealthCare, UC San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital is credited with saving nearly 100 lives since last year. The ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) Consortium assessed more than 300 patients in need of life support during the height of the pandemic, and allowed for equitable provision of ECMO across the region. 

The ECMO is described as an external heart and lung that helps oxygenate a patient’s blood and returns it back to the body, giving the patient’s body a chance to heal after the toll of a ventilator and is only employed when a patient’s lungs become so inflamed that their blood must be oxygenated. 

“It’s patients first,” said Dr. Mazen Odish, Pulmonary and Critical Care Physician at UCSD Health. “And I think all three health systems care about our patients first. We care about the communities that we service.”

“Three or four weeks ago, I was getting about one ECMO referral a week, and now I’m getting probably between two and eight a day,” said Cassia Yi, a program coordinator and nurse specialist at UC San Diego Health, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. “These are physicians who are calling from all over Southern California who are looking for help and have already reached capacity.”

A spokeswoman for UC San Diego Health said that the partnership is ramping up again as the number of cases involving the Delta variant is increasing among patients. 

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