Central California officials plead with state to transfer patients to LA hospitals

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Amid a COVID-19 surge, health officials in Central California are pleading with state officials to send patients to other, less affected areas such as Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Times reported Nov. 23.

The officials cite capacity concerns as well as staffing challenges and overcrowded emergency departments.

"We don't have enough hospitals to serve the population and the needs," Rais Vohra, MD, the Fresno County interim health officer, said, according to the LA Times. Hospitals in the San Joaquin Valley are "often running over capacity, so that they're holding dozens and dozens of patients in the emergency department."

Dale Dotson, operations coordinator for the Central California Emergency Medical Services Agency, expressed similar sentiments, noting that crowded emergency rooms are forcing ambulances to wait outside hospitals to drop patients off, the newspaper reported.

The officials contend that making it easier to transfer hospital patients to Los Angeles County and other less affected areas would help with hospital operations.

The plea comes as nearly 800 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in the San Joaquin Valley, a region of more than 4 million people, according to the LA Times. This compares with 558 COVID-19 patients in Los Angeles County, which has a population of more than 10 million.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services said in a statement to the LA Times that it "welcomes patients from other counties while ensuring healthcare services are readily available for residents in our county."

Overall, the new daily COVID-19 hospitalization rate in California has decreased 14 percent over the last two weeks, according to data last updated Nov. 24 and tracked by The New York Times.

Read the full report here

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