A record-breaking coronavirus surge is taking a toll on local hospitals, prompting Kaiser Permanente to stop admitting patients Friday at an emergency room in Downey, and to consider doing the same at other facilities.
Kaiser says patients seeking care for the flu and COVID-19 have put many emergency rooms at capacity, meaning officials must consider incorporating a practice known as diversion.
“Diversion is commonly used to deal with overloaded hospitals, and ensures that ambulances will efficiently get patients to facilities for care,” a statement from Kaiser read.
The diversion practice is coordinated with local emergency medical services and is only done when completely necessary, according to the statement.
“We are employing this tactic judiciously at our Downey Medical Center and may be forced to do the same at other facilities,” Kaiser stated.
Emergency room diversions can last for a few hours or a full day, but the practice raises concerns among area residents.
“I definitely think it’s scary. Just in case you do get sick and you need to come to the emergency … Yeah, that’s definitely scary,” Downey resident Shaunta Rice said.
Los Angeles County set a single-day record for the number of coronavirus cases reported on Thursday with 37,215, according to the Public Health Department.
More than 2,600 patients with COVID-19 were in a Los Angeles County hospital as of Thursday.
A demand for testing has also put a strain on hospitals, according to Kaiser.
Officials asked that people only go to emergency rooms and urgent care facilities for medical emergencies, and not for coronavirus testing.