Santa Clara County residents are flooding emergency rooms all through the area looking for COVID-19 exams amid the county’s largest an infection surge.
Emergency rooms in hospitals throughout the South Bay are overwhelmed by the onslaught of seekers, tying up sources for these with imminent wants, county officers and hospital representatives stated.
“We’ve seen a dramatic improve in emergency room visits, and lots of the people coming in are solely searching for COVID-19 exams and shouldn’t have any emergency medical or psychiatric wants,” Santa Clara Valley Medical Middle hospital officers advised San José Highlight. “It’s critically essential that we reserve emergency sources for these with emergency wants.”
In response to the newest county information, a complete of seven,861 individuals went to the emergency rooms in Santa Clara County in December—a leap from 7,399 individuals in November.
“Our county emergency departments are seeing a really massive variety of individuals coming in,” Dr. Sara Cody, county public well being officer, stated Friday. “Whereas I don’t know the precise proportion which can be there solely for testing, I merely know that the emergency departments are very full.”
Underneath the county’s present well being order, hospitals can’t flip away sufferers searching for a COVID check—so long as they report having signs or have been uncovered to COVID. Meaning these with medical emergencies have to attend longer for care.
“The emergency rooms aren’t the proper place to go for testing,” Cody added. “It’s the proper place to go for emergency.”
Regardless of her urging, Cody received’t say if the county would change its well being order to permit emergency rooms to show away sufferers with out emergency wants and cut back a few of the burden on thinly-stretched hospital staffs.
“Our job on the county and in public well being is to speak clearly to the general public when to make use of which sources and what to do,” Cody stated.
Omicron’s speedy transmission
The brand new COVID-19 omicron variant, which was first found within the county Dec. 10, has prompted considerations amongst residents with its speedy transmission charge. After the vacation season, COVID as soon as once more engulfed the realm. The variety of day by day instances skyrocketed, because the seven-day rolling common of recent COVID infections within the county jumped from 657 on Dec. 24 to 4,657 as of Friday—an all-time excessive because the pandemic started in March 2020.
The county is already testing roughly 25,000 individuals per day and offering self-tests by way of colleges, however it nonetheless can’t sustain with calls for. The Board of Supervisors this week ordered the county to ramp up its testing distribution efforts, comparable to partnering with unorthodox distributors like native political advocacy organizations or guardian instructor associations.
As speedy at-home exams and testing appointments proceed to be a scarce, some residents are lining as much as get examined at emergency rooms.
Kaiser Permanente, the first look after roughly 600,000 Santa Clara County residents, is additionally experiencing an uptick in sufferers visiting the emergency rooms for COVID exams.
“We ask that individuals solely use the emergency departments for non-routine medical emergencies,” Kaiser Permanente officers advised San José Highlight. “Our emergency departments can solely present COVID-19 exams for non-routine emergent care functions.”
Regional Medical Middle and Good Samaritan Hospital didn’t reply to a number of inquiries about their emergency departments.
The pressure on the emergency hospital methods comes as Santa Clara County is pushing to get non-public hospitals to do extra COVID-19 testing. Hospitals are required to check sufferers inside a day after they name to report signs or publicity, County Counsel James Williams stated.
“We actually do want all the massive well being care methods to do their half so the burden isn’t solely on the county itself, which is at present offering a disproportionate share of the testing to our group,” Williams stated at a information convention Friday.
Residents also can report back to the county if their major care suppliers fail to present them a check, which might immediate enforcement from the county.
“We’ve, prior to now, taken enforcement (motion) with respect to the testing order,” Williams stated. “We’re ready to take action once more if wanted.”
In response to Williams, roughly 300,000 residents—or 15% of the inhabitants—get their major care from the county well being methods, however the county is offering 20% of all testing. Kaiser Permanente offers look after 30% of the inhabitants, however solely accounts for 12% of all testing.
“We’re working arduous to make extra testing appointments accessible the place we are able to,” Kaiser officers advised San José Highlight.
The hospitals urge residents to hunt COVID exams by way of the county’s system or make an appointment with their major care suppliers.
“We all know it might be tough proper now to get a COVID-19 check,”Santa Clara Valley Medical Middle officers stated. “However we strongly urge our group to not use the emergency room if they don’t have an emergency situation.”
Santa Clara County residents could make COVID-19 testing appointments by way of this hyperlink. Beginning Wednesday, residents can order exams on-line from the federal authorities.
Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or comply with @nguyenntrann on Twitter.