FLX hospitals going on diversion more often

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Emergency rooms across the region are over capacity and overwhelmed. It’s becoming such an issue that some hospitals have been forced to ask ambulances to take patients elsewhere.

On Thursday evening, News10NBC reported that Rochester General Hospital was diverting ambulances. It was the second time this week the emergency department at RGH went on diversion after going more than a decade without using the mechanism.

Diversion does not mean the hospital is closed but that the current patient load exceeds the hospital’s ability to safely treat additional patients. It’s basically a request to EMS professionals to take patients elsewhere if possible.

“Yesterday, we had a particularly challenging spike of severe acuity, the number of patients on ventilators and that just stretches the staff,” explained Dr. Robert Mayo, the Chief Medical Officer for Rochester Regional Health.

It’s not all COVID patients, other respiratory and cardiac issues have been prevalent as of late.

“Going on diversion, it’s designed to give the ED just a little bit of space to catch up with patient care,” Dr. Mayo said.

Other hospitals across the Finger Lakes Region have used diversion too. According to state data, this is how often of the course of the last two months:

  • Rochester General – 2
  • Noyes – 1
  • Clifton Springs – 5
  • FF Thompson – 5
  • Newark-Wayne – 7
  • Wyoming Co. Community Hospital – 9

Even if you’re able to get into an emergency room unless it’s a matter of life or death, your accommodations aren’t going to be what you might expect.

“The stress is partly because of insufficient staffing or lower than ideal staffing and so, patients sit in chairs in hallways, they are in stretchers in hallways,” Dr. Mayo explained, “no one likes that, it’s uncomfortable for the patients, they don’t feel well, we want to get them creature comforts if we can but we can’t always deliver that as we would like.”

The other big problem in emergency rooms right now is that about 33% of people showing up are there just to get a COVID-19 PCR test.

Doctors are pleading with the public to use state/county-run testing sites or pharmacies if a PCR test is required and avoid both urgent cares and emergency rooms unless your symptoms become worse.