Hospital fills beds, begins ‘diversion’

Dec. 06, 2012 @ 05:56 PM

Maria Parham Medical Center ran out of beds Thursday morning, prompting the hospital to announce a state of “diversion” to send emergency transport cases to other area hospitals.
Hospital spokesman David Ruggles said Thursday critical emergencies are still admitted, and walk-in cases are in a holding pattern.
“The emergency department went on diversion at about 11:30 a.m.,” Ruggles said, adding both ER and regular hospital rooms are full. “We have nowhere to move patients.”
Vance County Emergency Management Services Director Harold Henrich said that he has taken the matter under advisement. The diversion status means that emergency transportation services will have to make their runs to alternate hospitals.
“It happens occasionally, primarily when the flu season hits,” Henrich said. “This has happened here several times in recent weeks. The flu season has hit the state early this year.”
Ruggles said while the early arrival of flu cases is a part, there was a number of converging factors contributing.
“This is already a busy time of year, and on top of that the flu season is early as well,” Ruggles said. “We are in a holding pattern, probably for a day or so.”
Ruggles said other area hospitals indicate a scarce availability, but at least some availability. Maria Parham was the first to max out on space this time. 
“They are all very busy,” he said.
According to Ruggles, the Centers for Disease Control reported to medical providers their prediction of an early and heavy flu season, recommending flu shots to keep instances of hospitalization down.
“Flu shots are effective,” Ruggles said. “I receive my flu shot every year, and I never have the flu.”
Ruggles said critical emergencies can still come in for treatment. People coming to the ER themselves are told about the situation, to either wait there for an opening or try another area hospital.
“We let them know that there is a wait on beds here,” Ruggles said.
The hospital website, mariaparham.com, includes a link to current information on emergency department wait times.
The wait on beds depends on when patients currently under care are able to be discharged, Ruggles said.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.