At one Los Angeles hospital there are five tents outside, one serving as a waiting room.
So many patients are coming into Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital some are being put in the gift shop, a chapel or a conference room.
Over the past week, almost 100,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in Los Angeles County, and that causes problems for what do with other patients.
Hospital CEO Dr. Elaine Batchlor told CNN on Monday: “If we continue to see an increase in the number of Covid patients, we may be forced to do something that, as health professionals, we all really just loathe having to even think about.”
She was talking about rationing care. Right now, it’s not business as usual.
“Our staff has been incredibly adept and flexible in accommodating increasing numbers of patients, so as you heard, we have five tents outside of the hospital,” Batchlor said. “We have patients in our conference room, in our chapel.”
Many gurneys are taken into the gift shop, she said.
While Batchlor didn’t specify how many new patients have Covid, the increase in their numbers is putting stress on all care.
Batchlor said the hospital will not turn patients away but may have to employ techniques that have been used during war.
“We use what in the battlefield is called triage techniques, which is doing an assessment of each person’s needs and prognosis and using scarce resources with patients that are most likely to benefit from them,” she said.
L.A. County Health Services Director Christina Ghaly said some hospitals are seeing patients who are still on ambulances.
“Those patients are being cared for and treated in the ambulance as if it’s part of the emergency room bay,” Ghaly said.
L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said there have been 97,472 new cases over the past seven days. “The sad reality is that all indicators show us that our situation may only get worse as we begin 2021,” she said.
Hospitalizations reach all-time high
More Americans were hospitalized this past week than any other week of the pandemic, according to the Covid Tracking Project. And the United States reported 121,235 current Covid-19 hospitalizations on Monday, a pandemic high.
Six states set records Sunday for the most Covid-19 patients hospitalized: Alabama, California, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina. Texas hit an all-time high on Monday.
Doctors say mass holiday gatherings will lead to even more patients – a huge problem because many hospitals are already beyond capacity.