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Crowded emergency rooms cause first responders to face tough decisions

EMS crews claim they have faced issues recently where several hospitals have requested they divert patients to other ER's that are not as crowded

Some EMS crews claim they have faced some tough situations lately as they were asked by multiple crowded hospitals to divert patients somewhere else.

A divert request is made when a hospital is facing an influx of patients in order to place patients in health care systems that are not as full. First responders like Nathan Harig of Cumberland Goodwill EMS stress a divert request is only a request. If a patient's life is at risk or there is no where else to go EMS crews will still take patients to the nearest hospital.

"Monday night in particular was the most stressed in Pennsylvania that I've heard of where it seemed like every hospital in the state was on divert even into Maryland, even into Ohio," said Harig.

Harig tweeted about the situation Monday as well. Hospitalizations across Pennsylvania have been on the rise due to the delta variant. Harig acknowledges, however, that PA is faring better than other states in the nation.

"It is very very rare for us in south-central Pennsylvania to have all our hospitals on a total ER divert," said Harig.

A spokesperson for Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center wrote FOX43,that it "has been experiencing high volumes in the Emergency Department, therefore patients may experience a longer wait. We are asking the community to help by following COVID safety mitigation protocols, including getting vaccinated, and using emergency departments for urgent and critical medical care that can’t be addressed by Penn State Health OnDemand, walk-in clinics or urgent care."

York Regional EMS echoed that call for people to utilize their primary care doctors and urgent care centers when possible to ease stress on emergency rooms. However both they and Harig added that people shouldn't hesitate to call 911.

"We can't say that it's exclusively COVID because we don't have access to those resources the hospitals have. But, at the same time, there's no surprise that there are a higher number of patients than there were in July that lie in hospitals, that are inpatients due to COVID-19's delta variant. And, those are bed spaces. And, that just kind of gums up the system from there," said Harig.

Harig said vaccinations are another key way to help free up emergency rooms to treat emergencies. He suggested for everyone to not only get their COVID-19 vaccinations but also their flu shots.

Current COVID-19 Hospitalizations:

Wellspan Health

Total: 208

Chambersburg Hospital: 59

Ephrata Community Hospital: 21

Gettysburg Hospital: 17

Good Samaritan Hospital: 30

Waynesboro Hospital: 12

York Hospital: 69

More info here.

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital

Total: 59

Percent of COVID-19 Patients in Critical Care (ICU): 11/59 = 19%

Percent of COVID-19 Patients on a Ventilator at LGH: 8/59 = 14%

Total of COVID-19-related Deaths at LGH: 381

More info here.

Penn State Health

Total: 84 Adults, 7 Children 

In ICU: 23 adults, 0 children

On Ventilator: 13 adults, 0 children

More info here.