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Some EMS patients are being diverted away from DCH affiliated hospitals in West Alabama

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 7:04 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2021 at 8:43 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - EMS providers in some rural areas have been asked to avoid bringing some patients to DCH Regional Medical Center if they can.

The change was made after hospital beds at DCH hospitals filled with patients sick from coronavirus and others needing care. “About three or four weeks ago, it came out for us to carry all of our patients to our local hospital unless it was a major trauma, stroke or heart attack or something like that,” according to Russell Weeden, Hale County’s EMA Director. He said that came from state EMS.

This impacts providers like Hale County EMS when it comes to transporting patients to DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa. Now more people with less serious injuries or medical problems are being taken by ambulance to Hale County Hospital if possible.

“They’ve transported to Mobile, Birmingham, all over the state in the last couple of weeks because DCH hasn’t been accepting any transfers,” Weeden continued.

WBRC asked DCH Spokesman Andy North why the change became necessary. “DCH is really full on our campuses. The emergency rooms are really struggling right now. You’ll have long wait times,” North explained.

He added the rise of COVID-19 positive patients along with patients with other illnesses at DCH made the change necessary. “It hasn’t been uncommon for us to talk with them in the past about taking patients to facilities that have capacity at that time. It’s probably been more frequent during COVID that we’ve had to resort to these measures,” North continued.

DCH will still accept patients in need of critical care. More than 120 COVID-positive patients were in the hospital as of Thursday morning.

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