Greenville Co. EMS says patients wait hours at hospital for limited bed space

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)–Prisma Health reported 566 hospitalized COVID-19 patients on Wednesday, with nearly all of those being unvaccinated. As hospital beds are filling up in coming patients are being forced to wait.

Prisma Health announced it will be pausing many elective surgeries to free up bed space. This as emergency medical services are waiting with patients for hours in hospital hallways for an available room.

Greenville County EMS has transported nearly a thousand patients to area hospitals in the last week and many of those have had long waits for a bed.

“About 10-percent of those calls have been between one and three hours,” Dr. Tom Blackwell, the executive director of Greenville County EMS, said.

He says many hospitals simply don’t have anywhere to put patients.

“We’re waiting in the hallway ready to move a patient over to a hospital bed but there are no beds available,” Dr. Blackwell said.

And he’s experienced it first hand.

“A patient that was fairly ill was on a stretcher for three hours before we could get them into a hospital room,” he said.

Prisma Health is taking action to address the issue by postponing elective surgeries at many of its campuses. Saying in a statement: “…We must take these additional steps to care for this large number of extremely sick patients.”

“Whether you want to admit it or not we are in a state of emergency right now. We’re in a pandemic and we’re in a state of emergency,” Dr. Blackwell said.

The limited capacity has a trickle down effect. When ambulances can’t get back in service it jams the system.

“When you’ll 911 we want to be there to respond to your need. And when we’re sitting in a hospital with a patient on a stretcher we’re not available for your 911 call. That plagues our system,” Blackwell said.

There are ways you can help including knowing when it’s appropriate to call 911. And protecting yourself against COVID-19.

“Get vaccinated, there’s one way to stop this in the literature and that’s we need to really think about becoming vaccinated,” Dr. Blackwell said.

Staffing shortages both inside hospitals and in EMS are compounding the problem. Dr. Blackwell says some spots are even considering alternative care spaces like tents to help get ambulances back into service quicker.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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