Overwhelmed hospitals divert patients as COVID cases rise across southwest and central Virginia

Local News

(WFXR) — Hospitals across the southwest and central Virginia area are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients and are diverting them to less busy facilities for proper treatment.

The recent spikes in COVID cases have led to issues such as full beds and staff shortages, but healthcare providers say that patients will still be seen.

“The EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act) law guarantees that patients arriving at an emergency room will be at very minimum evaluated by a qualified person and then either treated or transferred to another facility that has resources for treatment,” said Dr. Frank Cannizzo, chief of staff for Salem VA Health Care.

The pandemic has not only caused struggles in staffing, but has also taken a toll on the mental health of workers.

Nancy Bell, the Population Health Manager for the West Piedmont District of the Virginia Department of Health, says that more healthcare workers are leaving due to their mental health.

“Part of it is they are experiencing staff shortages,” Bell said. “Healthcare workers are getting burned out and they are leaving the profession and it’s putting a strain on those who are still there.”

To help with the overwhelmed hospitals, medical professionals say patients should not go directly to the emergency room. Instead, you are encouraged to make an appointment with your healthcare provider to get evaluated.

Healthcare providers tell WFXR News that people who get vaccinated can help reduce the influx of patients at these facilities.

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