Local Hospitals and Fire-EMS Agencies Ask for the Community’s Help as Emergency Room Use Rises
Joint statement endorsed by Alleghany County Department of Public Safety, Botetourt County Department of Fire & EMS, Carilion Clinic, Centra Health, City of Roanoke Fire-EMS, City of Salem Fire- EMS, Craig County EMS, Franklin County Department of Public Safety, Henry County Department of Public Safety, LewisGale Regional Health System, Near Southwest Preparedness Alliance (NSPA), Patrick County Fire & EMS, Pittsylvania County Public Safety Department, Roanoke County Fire & Rescue, Sovah
Health, Virginia Department of Health and Western Virginia EMS Council
(Sept. 23, 2021) – In the face of increased demand for local and regional emergency services following a steady uptick in COVID-19 cases and community spread, local fire-EMS agencies and hospitals need your help.
With the rapid spread of the Delta variant, COVID-19 has been relentless and unforgiving. We have empowered the community with effective, free and widely available tools to fight this virus. Now we’re coming together to call on community members to take advantage of those tools to stay healthy.
Please do your part to help us defend the frontlines:
- Seek the appropriate level of care. If you have a non-life-threatening illness or injury, or you simply need a COVID-19 test, please consider primary care, urgent care or retail pharmacy options. To find a testing site near you, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-testing- sites/ or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (1-877-829-4682). Call 911 immediately or go to the nearest emergency department for critical conditions and life-threatening illnesses or injuries.
- Get vaccinated. More than 85 percent of those currently hospitalized for COVID-19 in our region are unvaccinated. The vaccine is the best way to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and out of the hospital during the pandemic.
- When in doubt, wear a mask and keep your distance from others. Regardless of your vaccination status, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for preventing the spread of the virus.
We are here, ready and passionate about caring for you. It’s our calling and privilege to care for community members during their worst moments. The increase in COVID-19 cases and the impact that the virus has had on our region weighs on all of us. It’s even more difficult when preventable emergency room traffic complicates delivering care.
Our commitment through it all remains steady: We are here to protect you. If you aren’t sure about getting the vaccine, talk to your primary care physician or ask any one of us about it. We aren’t here to judge you; we’re here to help you and to best care for you.
Increased Patient Volumes
Over the past month, hospitals throughout our region have seen a significant increase in the volume of patients. As a result, many hospitals in our region have needed to use what is called a hospital “diversion.”
Diversion is a temporary, precautionary measure that hospitals take when their current volume of patients exceeds their emergency department’s ability to treat additional patients promptly. When a hospital goes on diversion, area EMS teams will take incoming patients to the nearest emergency room that is not on diversion, giving the first emergency department time to decompress.
Importantly, going on ‘diversion’ is a request more than an order. If another hospital cannot receive a patient or is too far away, or if multiple hospitals are on diversion, patients will be taken to the closest, most appropriate hospital regardless of diversion status.
While emergency rooms remain open for those who need them, high patient volumes can complicate and delay care. Many current emergency room visits are preventable. Please get vaccinated and seek out the appropriate level of care when needed.
More Resources Needed to Treat Sicker Patients
Hospital and frontline providers are facing increased demand on two fronts:
- We’re treating patients who may have delayed care during the pandemic – many with good reason.
- We’re seeing more COVID-19 hospitalizations, primarily in individuals who are unvaccinated, and many of whom are younger.
All of our teams are working nonstop to care for our communities. We are working through yet another wave of this pandemic, continuing to provide life-saving services – and not just to COVID-19 patients. Between delayed care from the past 19 months and current COVID-19 cases, many patients now need hospital care.
It’s critical that we reserve our hospital emergency rooms and rescue squads for medical emergencies.
Please do your part to stay healthy and out of the hospital. Help us to defend the frontlines together.