Valley hospitals operating in 'disaster mode,' doctors say

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Doctors say Valley hospitals are operating in "disaster mode" because of the latest COVID spike caused by the Delta variant.

Many emergency rooms have now run out of bed space.

"We are completely at capacity," says CRMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tom Utecht. "In fact, overcapacity at our facilities."

Packed ER conditions strain a hospital's ability to treat accident and heart attack victims.

Four units at St. Agnes Hospital have been converted to accommodate the surge of COVID patients.

The number of cases might not be as high as we saw during the winter, but hospital officials say staffing levels are now much lower.

"Our healthcare professionals are exhausted," says St. Agnes Hospital Community Health Vice President Yvonne Del Torosian. "They've seen this pandemic for far too long."

In an unprecedented move to make space, five ICU patients have been moved out of the area to hospitals in Watsonville and Woodland.

It's gotten to the point some people who call for an ambulance might not get transported to the hospital if it is a non-emergency situation.

"Our healthcare system right now is in a state of paralysis," says Fresno County EMS Director Dan Lynch. "We are paralyzed right now. Unable to even move patients, for the most part, even on the EMS system side."

Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra showed how Fresno County data revealed a troubling trend.

"We are still in the stage of this surge where it's still spreading and that's concerning," he said. "That's extremely concerning."

Dr.Vohra said based on the modeling, this latest spike in COVID infections is expected to worsen and the back-up in the ICU at valley hospitals will continue for another month.

He again urges the unvaccinated to get their shots.
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