How COVID-19 is affecting the port of Los Angeles.

I am from San Pedro, California. We are now home to the “Mercy” hospital ship. I am going to be sharing with you my mom’s experiences working in a hospital during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as how I’ve seen the locals reacting to the quarantine.

The Mercy Hospital Ship

San Pedro, the port of Los Angeles and my home, is now the host of the Navy’s “Mercy” hospital ship. It is here to take the pressure off of hospitals who have an overflow of COVID-19 patients and will only be serving patients with non-COVID-19 related illnesses. It is now the largest hospital in Los Angeles County with 1,000 beds and 800 doctors and nurses. 

I wanted to drive by the ship, but apparently a lot of other people had the same idea. We were turned away. But what does this mean for San Pedro? Are the sick from all over Los Angeles going to be brought here to be treated? Will this be good for the city? I hope that bringing in the ship will provide help to the hurting and that we can all get on board with the relief it brings to the hospitals under pressure. 

Mental Health

Ingrid Hicks, my mother and alumni of Azusa Pacific’s Graduate School of Psychology, earned her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2002 and is now a licensed marriage and family therapist. She currently works as a psychiatric social worker in the Inpatient Psychiatric Unit at San Pedro’s Providence Little Company of Mary Hospital. She is keeping up with her clients using a website called, a HIPAA compliant telehealth program that doctors and therapists use. 

She is the only one in my family still going outside the house and working. She has seen a steady influx of mental health patients in the Inpatient Psychiatric Unit. 

“We are seeing patients having psychiatric crises directly related to COVID-19,” Hicks said. “We had an international student who was abandoned by her roommates due to COVID, and she had a breakdown because she couldn’t fly home to Saudi Arabia.” 

Ironically, the small hospital hasn’t been admitting many COVID-19 patients. The more serious cases are being sent to their sister hospital in Torrance because they are more equipped to treat serious patients. 

During the beginning stages of preparing for the pandemic, there was an increase of anxiety amongst the staff due to a shortage of masks, barriers to COVID testing and the fear that the hospital would become overwhelmed with COVID patients.

“Now that we are one month into the quarantine, our supply of masks and gloves is fulfilled, and now there is access to COVID testing at the hospital so the mood amongst the staff is much better,” said Hicks.

The hospital has been making changes in the Inpatient Psychiatric Unit because of COVID to keep patients and staff healthy. 

“We are having to make a lot of adjustments in our psychiatric unit to practice social distancing and have had patients wash their hands a lot,” continued Hicks.

“We are shifting our focus with our patients on how they can cope with anxiety about the Coronavirus. Most of our resources are closing their doors and no longer servicing our patients. No rehabs are open, no crisis residential programs to send them to. We are doing the best we can but it is definitely impacting mental health treatment,” said Hicks.

Locals’ Behavior

My family has been trying to take care of our grandparents by bringing them groceries and meals, which is something we never did before. We have also started working out and walking our dog for pleasure instead of necessity.

When we take the dog for a  walk, we now see an abundance of people out and about in the neighborhood. Kids out on their front lawns playing, elderly individuals walking hand-in-hand, people driving slower. It’s becoming more of a community; commiserating about the same problems and coming out on porches to talk to each other. 

A council member even made a Facebook group called COVID-19 updates in San Pedro which features restaurants of the day and offers boxed meals for seniors. 

It’s beautiful to see humans being humans again; exercising, being outside, being kind, helping a neighbor in need. Our humanity is coming back.