Dr. Jeffrey Smith, chief operating officer of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said hospitals and staff are doing their best to keep up as coronavirus infections soar.
Ambulance crews in Los Angeles County were given guidance not to transport patients with little chance of survival. The order is “very specific to patients who suffered from a cardiac arrest and are unable to be revived in the field,” Smith explained. “Those patients have a very low rate of survival even if they are transported to the hospital, so at this time, it is deemed to likely be futile.”
He said emergency medical services are working to divert ambulances to hospitals with capacity to receive patients. The length of time that patients are waiting in ambulances varies from “day-to-day and hour-to-hour,” Smith said.
“Things change very quickly. There are parts of our city where ambulances are waiting for hours in order to off-board patients. In those places, the county is working with those hospitals to actually set up tents to receive those patients and get them off the ambulances so the ambulances can be returned to service,” he said.
Smith said that the medical center has converted recovery rooms into ICU beds to double their capacity, brought in additional staff from around the country and increased health care workers’ shifts to try to keep up with demand.