Orange County Hospitals May Have to Start Cancelling Non-Coronavirus TreatmentsVoice of OC

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The landslide of coronavirus patients on Orange County hospitals is forcing the health care system and public health officials to make unprecedented moves, like building field hospitals and requiring ambulance admissions on overcrowded emergency rooms. 


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Dr. Jim Keany, an emergency medicine physician at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, fears hospitals could soon be overrun if trends continue. 

“From all indications the way things are headed now, there’s no question that the medical systems in our area will be overwhelmed,” he said in a Wednesday phone interview. “In a matter of weeks.” 

He said it’s an unprecedented situation. 

“In the last 30 years, I have not seen anything that compares to this,” Keany said. 

As of Thursday, 1,519 county residents were hospitalized, including 343 in intensive care units. 

Hospitalizations have reached a point where OC Emergency Medical Services Director, Dr. Charles Schultz suspended ambulance diversion, which is when hospitals turn away an ambulance because their emergency rooms are full — forcing the ambulance to find another hospital. 

“In our current COVID-19 situation, due to overwhelming numbers of patients presenting to the emergency departments for care across the county, almost all hospitals were going on diversion. If nothing was done, ambulances would soon run out of hospitals to take their patients. Therefore, we temporarily suspended ambulance diversion,” reads a late Wednesday statement from Schultz.

It’s a move likely never before seen in Orange County. 

“To the best of our knowledge, this has never happened before,” reads the statement, posted on the county Health Care Agency’s Twitter account.

Schulz directive, issued Wednesday, warns the trends are unsustainable. 



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