Hospitals, ambulances stressed
County ambulances once again are having to divert many patients from one hospital to another.
St. Luke in Marion has diverted critical patients directly to larger hospitals than usual because it has had difficulty finding hospitals to accept them.
Delays also have been common.
“We’ve been holding patients for longer than we typically do,” chief executive Jeremy Ensey said.
Hospitals in Newton, Wichita, and Salina, where St. Luke typically sends patients, often are unable to accept them. St. Luke even has had to transfer patients to hospitals in other states, Ensey said.
It’s a problem that has been happening throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It doesn’t sound like the bed thing is getting any better,” Ensey said.
County emergency medical director Travis Parmley said Newton Medical Center recently had been on diversion status, turning away all patients because it had so many intensive care patients that others in need of a regular hospital room must wait in an emergency room.
Hospitals around the state are reporting that while COVID hospitalizations are decreasing slightly, they remain higher than they were in any previous wave of the pandemic.
Patient stays are three times longer than before, straining intensive care capacity.
A sustained period of highly-contagious Omicron variant patients has put great stress on the state’s health care system.
The Omicron variant was discovered in Marion County the week of Jan. 16.
Some recent diversions were expected. Hillsboro Community Hospital patients in need of CT scans were taken to St. Luke in Marion because HCH’s CT scanner was being replaced.
HCH’s new scanner was up and running several days later.