LOS ALAMITOS (CBSLA) – Patients who are taken to hospital face long lines in emergency bays after the Orange County Health Care Agency suspended ambulance diversions.
The diversion of the ambulance allowed the hospitals to request that the emergency patients be taken to other medical centers. With so many hospitals in Orange County in capacity due to the increase in the number of patients with COVID-19, the suspension of diversions means that hospitals must accept patients regardless of their capacity.
For some hospitals, this creates long waiting periods, but also prevents hospitals from taking patients when they are not full.
At Los Alamitos Medical Center, a line of at least 17 ambulances with patients were seen outside the emergency room on Wednesday. Paramedics from the Anaheim Fire Department, Long Beach, Orange County Fire Authority and LA County waited with their patients, some of whom were on guard on the sidewalk leading to the entrance to the emergency room bay.
Some patients received EKGs and X-rays right in the bay, according to an EMT who asked not to be identified. Some hospitals do not accept patients unless they first receive a rapid COVID-19 test, he said.
Orange County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has temporarily suspended any ambulance diversion for hospitals participating in the 9-1-1 system. Please refer to the statement of Dr. Carl Schultz, EMS Medical Director. # OCCOVID19 #StopTheSurge #SlowTheSpread # Wear a mask pic.twitter.com/XkD5gmOVhy
– OC Health Care Agency (@ochealth) December 17, 2020
Dr. Carl Schultz, EMS Medical Director of Orange County, said they were forced to make the move because the overwhelming number of patients led to almost all hospitals diverting ambulances simultaneously.
Suspending the diversion of ambulances “will spread this throughout the county and will help alleviate the growing concern of finding hospital destinations for ambulances,” he said. “As far as we know, this has never happened before.”
On Thursday, the county broke its hospitalization record again – which has recently become a daily occurrence.
Currently, there are 1,519 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, including 343 in ICU beds. The regulated capacity of the intensive care bed of the county remains zero.