LOS ANGELES - Due to the winter surge of COVID-19, fueled by the fast spreading omicron variant, hospitals across Southern California are facing major staffing shortages.
52 out of 62 hospitals that LA City Fire dispatches to are currently on diversion, closed to new patients due to lack of hospital beds and staffing.
The surge is greatly impacting frontline workers, hundreds of officers and firefighters are out sick due to COVID, and it’s adding more stress for nurses and doctors.
Dr. Janice DaVolio runs a private dermatology practice. She’s rescheduling less urgent patients, saying no to anyone without a mask, trying to make sure she and her staff stay healthy.
So far, at least one or two are out with COVID.
The Chief Operating Officer at Cedars Sinai Medical Center says COVID-19 among doctors, nurses, and staff has increased significantly.
"The incidents of COVID amongst our staff is really reflective of the incidents in the community," said Dr. Jeffrey Smith, COO of Cedars Sinai.
"Our staff has stepped up and taken on additional shifts as needed. In addition to that we had anticipated the surge and did bring in a fairly large number of travelers."
Despite the increase, Dr. Smith says patient care has not been impacted due to advanced planning
But other hospitals throughout Southern California, with less flexibility, result in ambulances waiting to unload patients...limiting their availability to go on the next run.
According to the California Ambulance Association, hospital diversions and bed delays are increasing handovers and keeping ambulances at hospitals.
The association tweeted out an image showing nearly three dozen hospitals in the Southern California area on diversions, with many sending ambulances away due to lack of staff.
"The sad part is when there isn’t enough caregivers, the patients do suffer there. No one want to get sick enough to call an ambulance and then sit on a gurney for four or five hours," said Jimmy Pierson, president of the California Ambulance Association.
The number of COVID-19-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals on Wednesday surged to 2,461, with 330 being treated in intensive care.
The hospitalization number is the highest it has been since last February. Due to rising patient numbers, the county Department of Public Health on Monday urged residents to avoid visiting hospital emergency rooms unless they urgently need emergency care.
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