Emergency rooms filled to the brim

Surge at area hospitals
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 6:28 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Wait times are extending for hours at area hospital emergency rooms.

Health officials say the early entrance of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and the flu are creating an outbreak that is bringing many to the emergency room.

NEA Baptist Director of Emergency Services, Joey Crawford, said the impact of RSV and the flu is being felt nationwide and it’s filling up many emergency rooms.

“We’re also seeing high in-patient censuses in most hospitals across the country. So that compresses the ED because those patients who need to be admitted, they don’t have a bed upstairs to go to, so they must receive their care in the ED for an extended period until a bed opens upstairs,” he said.

That extended period can back up an emergency department for hours. This causes incoming patients and ambulances to end up waiting hours before getting help. When reaching full capacity Crawford said a hospital can go into what’s called a diversion.

“To say we’re in a diversion is to say essentially the hospital is full, we’re at capacity but we’re still accepting patients, we’re always going to accept patients,” he said.

Media Relations Manager for St. Bernard’s Medical Center, Mitchell Nail, said a diversion should not scare people trying to find help at a hospital.

“I realize it’s alarming if someone hears that an emergency room, an emergency department, is on diversion but it’s that hospital doing what it can to make sure that it’s able to take care of the patients that are currently there,” he said.

Crawford said many who come to an emergency room can also be helped by an urgent care center and a less wait time there. But he reiterated that the hospital won’t turn a patient away.

“Our door is always open, and we’re always going to see patients,” said Crawford. “We just ask for the community right now to be patient with us while we’re seeing this increased census and try to understand while they’re waiting that we don’t want them to wait either.”