the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Where’s ICU?


Thank you for your emails and comments about Fanya, Sophia’s mother.  She is doing better, and was released from the hospital tonight.  

Fanya’s room was located in the Saperstein Critical Care Tower, which was opened last year after entrepreneur and philanthropist David Saperstein and his wife Suzanne made the largest donation to Cedars-Sinai in the Medical Center’s history.

“The Sapersteins have accepted a crucial role in the reinvention of our campus by providing us with the means to build a state-of-the-art critical care tower,” said [hospital President and CEO Thomas M. Priselac when he received the donation]. “The Suzanne and David Saperstein Critical Care Tower will combine the latest monitoring technology with staffing to provide the most fragile patients with the most sophisticated care available.”

The Saperstein Critical Care Tower is clearly important for Los Angeles.

Annual hospital admissions countywide are up 20 percent in the past 10 years and seven hospitals have closed since 2003, according to a new report funded by The California Endowment.  West L.A. hospitals have been hard pressed to keep pace with demand, particularly institutions like Cedars that draw patients from a wider area. Population growth, on top of an aging demographic more likely to become seriously ill, have only exacerbated the situation, said  Dr. Paul Silka, [medical chief of staff], noting that Cedars often has long waiting lists to schedule elective surgery.

While Cedars-Sinai Medical Center clearly has top-notch doctors and medical equipment, I was not impressed with the human aspect of the patient care.   For example, why did no one come out to tell us how the surgery went?  Why did no one tell us that Fanya was taken back to ICU half an hour earlier?  Why were nurses laughing loudly with each other all night, waking up the patients in INTENSIVE CARE?   Or why was Fanya not fed for fourteen hours?  Even though the doctor gave the order to give her food, the nurse forgot to inform the nutrition department.  It took Sophia three and a half hours of fighting with everyone to get Fanya some food after her angioplasty.  Is this the bad effect of “Grey’s Anatomy,” where the personal lives of the staff are more important than those of the sick people?  Like in many other big-city hospitals, the basic concerns of the patient and his family seem to be of secondary consideration.   

Nothing symbolizes this better than the Saperstein Critical Care Tower itself.  As you can see from the above photo, the $110 million dollar facility may be “state-of-the-art,” but someone forgot to put up a sign telling patients and their families which building it is and WHERE THE ENTRANCE IS LOCATED.


  1. better safe than sorry

    i can’t tell from the pic, i would assume it would be by the garbage can (if that’s what that is, could be a piece of art?) but it also looks like there is railing around that area. maybe with their celebrity business, they have a “backdoor only” access you should be taking, to avoid the press.
    hope fanya’s successful recovery continues.

  2. Jennifer

    Beam me in Scotty! Maybe you can spearhead a fundraiser for the Neilochka Memorial Entrance to the Saperstein Critical Care Tower.
    Glad Fanya is doing better.

  3. Jill

    I had to take my son to the children’s hospital here in town, and had the same problem. Lovely building, oh yes, quite! WHERE DO I PARK AND HOW DO I GET IN THERE? I had to call the receptionist because we were late for our appointment and tell her I couldn’t figure out where to go. She told me, in a not hiding her contempt tone of voice, “It’s really easy.” I’m not exactly certain, but I think I may have reached through the phone and bit off a piece of her ear. Her stupid, stupid ear.

    Happy to hear Fanya is through her angioplasty and out the door. I’m guessing the exits are clearly marked?

  4. sarah

    HA! Thankfully its not the emergency room!

  5. Margaret

    the idea is to get the patients and family anxious, frightened, and unsure before they enter the facility, keeps them from getting all upity when someone gives a diabetic patient their meds with juice

  6. girl and dog

    I betcha the cashier area is clearly marked.

  7. plain jane

    The design is as warm and inviting as a federal prison. Perhaps the entrance is marked by those majestic potted trees.

    I’m glad Fanya is doing better.

  8. Pearl

    Neil, I’m bold (from a distance); I’m not known in L.A. I have no problem writing a letter and accompanying it with your last two posts, then sending the letter and copies to both the hospital administration over there, nor to the L.A. Times and other local papers!

    Glad Sophia’s mom is back home…where people speak her language in more ways than one!

  9. Eileen

    If they showed where the entrance is then patients would come in. Yeesh. Why would they want that? It looks so clean now. Who wants a bunch of sick people hanging around?

    Glad Sophie’s mum is on the road to recovery

  10. rach

    I couldn’t spot it either. How confusing is that? Poor show I think considering all the cash that went into it. Glad all looking better for the MIL

  11. teahouseblossom

    I’m sorry your mother-in-law’s hospital experience was less than exemplary. Luckily she had you and Sophia there to help her navigate somewhat. I’m glad she’s doing ok.

    This country’s health care system is broken.

  12. kapgar

    I’ve never been impressed with the human factor at hospitals. They’ve become so desensitized by the whole thing that they just don’t give it that extra inch of effort or caring. They come across as so nonplussed and lacking in compassion. Being in a hospital is a tough situation for patients, friends, and family already. Do we really need them to make it that much tougher on us?

    So where was the entrance?

  13. Dana

    You mean they forgot to put up the “Keep Out!” sign? Sheesh.

    Glad Fanya is out of there. Hope she’s feeling better.

  14. V-Grrrl

    The building looks like a giant cheese grater. Prepare to be sliced, diced, and shredded.

  15. Churlita

    I’m glad Fanya is doing better.

    When I worked in a clinic, there was so much pressure for doctors to see as many patients as possible. They simply didn’t have time for the human aspect. I can’t tell you how many times the dr. I worked for asked me to go in and make nicey-nice with the patients because she didn’t have time. Luckily for me, it was my favorite thing to do.

  16. Mo

    Hugs to your family, this sounds really frustrating and annoying and extremely stressful. Hugs to Fanya when she feels up to getting one after such an awful experience.

  17. Eileen Dover

    What, does C-S not want street signs cluttering up the road?

  18. kristen

    I haven’t checked in here for awhile….sorry about your MIL being admitted but I’m really glad that she’s doing better. Happy Pesach!

  19. Dagny

    Glad to hear that Fanya is feeling better. Folks always like to complain about my preferred medical provider but my family and I have always found warm, caring folks there.

  20. Lisa

    I have been in the emergency room and the hospital with my dad a few times and it’s always so scary. And you get such a runaround in hospitals. The nurses are overworked, but I feel like you get more from them than the doctors. I’m sorry you all have been dealing with this. Even though I don’t know you, big hugs to you and Sophia. My thoughts and hopes are with you.

  21. kanani

    Sorry you’ve had such a rough time.

    Well, that’s one ugly building! Gahhh. Cedars is a big, big name. But just because it’s a big, big name, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best in everything.

    Cancer? I’d probably go to City of Hope. Spinal chord trauma? Presbyterian Hospital in Whittier. Peds? Children’s Hospital LA. And that’s not counting places where doctors routinely do procedures that are day surgeries.

    So yeah, all hospitals are greatly affected by the general state of healthcare, which for the most part is dysfunctional.

    I’ve had some nightmare experiences with nursing staffs at almost all the hospitals. Quality? Well, that’s hard pressed when there’s a world wide shortage of nurses. They just aren’t going into it. Why? Because they can make more money doing other things…like selling real estate or something. And also, hospitals have greatly downgraded the use of nurses and hire cheaper LVN’s and CRNA’s.

    Glad she’s out of the hospital. Sorry you’ll have to pay the $11.00 parking fee when she goes in for her follow up visit if the MD is in those towers.

  22. Marty

    Kanani, the shortage of nurses doesn’t have much to do with this story, I think. Neil, correct me if I’m wrong, but in the ICU (at Cedars) one nurse only has 2 patients.

  23. Curbed LA [CurbedWire]

    [… Citizen of the Month blogs tells us that although Cedars-Sinai may have a fancy new critical care unit (the Saperstein Critical Care Tower), its lacking in a few areas such as basic signage…]

  24. nelumbo

    Glad Fanya is doing better.

    I always blaimed occasional poor medical care my family has recieved on the small town hospitals and doctors…but looks like the big city has its own problems.

  25. [Design Observer]

    […]Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles just built a $110 million critical care facility. But where’s the front door?[…]

  26. Neil

    Alexandra — good! Where are the names of the donor on the building? I just read online that the couple who donated the money divorced. I wonder if this has anything to do with the missing name…

  27. Rhea

    It scares me how bad hospital care is becoming. It’s important to have an advocate (like you and Sophia) in order to not be forgotten or treated poorly.

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