Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital has used EMS diversions to deal with increased COVID-19 caseload

Hospital leaders ask the public to not crowd the emergency department unless it’s urgent

Roanoke, Va. – Across Virginia, hospitals are treating nearly 2,200 patients with COVID-19 as of Thursday.

Before the pandemic, Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital operated with ICUs at 95% capacity and that started to drop during the pandemic as people stayed home; however, it’s now back at pre-pandemic levels and that poses a concern.

[Sweeping new vaccine mandates for 100 million Americans]

“While the number may be the same as it was pre-pandemic, the number of resources, bed requirements and the length of stay of those patients have increased tremendously,” said Emergency Services Senior Nursing Director Wrenn Brendel.

Therefore, the hospital wants people to only use the emergency department for urgent situations.

[Virginia sees 3,952 new coronavirus cases, now reporting 797,348 statewide]

“We want the community to please know and help us to not use the emergency department as a testing site,” explained Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrice Weiss.

In the meantime, the hospital is still utilizing transfer centers to help with their caseload.

The hospital issued two EMS diversions in the past month that lasted at most four hours.

Senior Vice President Michael Abbott said it’s a precautionary method to allow their health care workers to decompress and to handle the influx of patients.

“We try to stay away from EMS diversion because we want to create open access for our community,” said Brendel.

However, Abbott said if their hospital is the nearest location for a patient, they will not turn a patient away.

“Going on diversion is a request more than a directive,” he said. “If another hospital cannot receive a patient or is too far away. That patient is coming to us.”

Staffing shortages still pose a problem.

Abbott said they are utilizing more travel nurses and continue to partner with local colleges and universities to handle the caseload.

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