Officials suspend divergence of 911 ambulances as Orange County hospitals are filled to the brim with COVID-19 patients – NBC Los Angeles

When Orange County’s first primary health workers received COVID-19 vaccinations, an additional 23 fatalities were reported on Wednesday, and hospitals in the region continued to shatter data on the admission of coronavirus patients, sparking an unprecedented injunction preventing hospitals from moving ambulances to others. facilities.

The province registered 3,231 new diagnoses of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to 111,168. The fatalities reported Wednesday, dating back to earlier this month, raised the death toll to 1,718.

Hospital admissions rose from 1,371 Tuesday to 1,486 on Wednesday, including 319 ICU patients, from 296 the day before. Both are new records – a daily occurrence since last week.

The availability of ICU beds in the province fell from 10.4% Tuesday to 9.5% in the unadjusted category, falling from 1.4% in the “adjusted” metric back to zero. The state created the modified statistic to reflect the difference in beds available for COVID-19 patients and non-coronavirus patients.

The percentage of available ICU beds in Southern California’s 11-county region dropped from 1.7% to 0.5%.

Last Wednesday, the Orange County Health Care Agency issued an injunction allowing hospitals participating in the 911 system to request a diversion of ambulances to other medical centers. Dr. Carl Schultz, the medical director of the ambulance crew, said in a statement that hospital emergency departments have become so overwhelmed by the COVID spike that “almost all hospitals went on distraction.”

“If nothing was done, ambulances would soon run out of hospitals to transport their patients,” said Schultz. “That’s why we have temporarily suspended ambulance diversion. While this will put some additional strain on hospitals, it will spread this across the county and help reduce escalating concerns about finding hospital destinations for ambulances.”

Schultz added, “To our knowledge, this has never happened before.”

Orange County’s adjusted daily number of cases per 100,000 rose from 30.3 the week before to 42.7 on Tuesday, while the positivity rate increased from 10.6% to 13.2%. The county’s Health Equity Quartile Positivity Rate, which measures cases in the hard-hit, more needy parts of the county, rose from 16.2% last week to 18.8%.

The province is testing 526.8 per 100,000 residents on a seven-day average with a seven-day delay, which is a record high.

All of the county’s statistics now fall within the state’s most restrictive purple tier of the state’s four-tier coronavirus surveillance system.

As of Sunday, 38 deaths have been reported in Orange County. Last week, the province reported 62 fatalities, up from 41 and 26 in the previous two weeks, respectively.

Medical experts compare Pfizer and Moderna’s options. Joel Grover reporting for the NBC4 News on Wednesday December 16, 2020.

Most of the deaths reported since Friday were in the 75 and older category, but at least one was 25 to 34 years old.

Prior to this month, the record for ICU patients in Orange County was 245 at its mid-July peak. Overall hospital admissions have been breaking records daily since December 2.

The county received its first shipment of the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer on Wednesday. About 25,000 doses were delivered.

Dr. Paul Sheikewitz of Providence St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange, who was one of the first to receive a vaccination Wednesday, told the City News Service that meeting the wave of patients was “quite a challenge”.

“The biggest challenge is the burden of the number of patients we see versus the number of staff who are able to care for patients,” said Sheikewitz. “Providence has done a great job expanding the service, but we’re probably pushing it to the limit.”

Dr. Jeremy Zoch, the hospital’s CEO, urged residents to stay at home as much as possible, especially during the holidays.

“When (the hospital’s caregivers) normally take vacation, they take extra shifts and work in unexpected roles,” Zoch said. ‘Stay at home. Stay safe and help us reduce the spread so we can keep up with and nurture the community here. ‘

Dr. Clayton Chau, the County Health Care Agency’s director and chief health officer, said, “We all need to appeal to the community not to let our guard down now, not now that we are so close to the other side of the pandemic. . … Right now we need to work together like never before. “

Zoch said the latest wave of patients was “pretty incredible.”

UCI Medical Center is one of at least three locations in Orange County that will begin construction of a mobile field hospital as coronavirus cases increase. Annette Arreola signs up for Today in LA on Wednesday, December 16, 2020.

“Last summer, when we had our July wave, we had the National Guard here helping us … But honestly, this wave has given us 75% more patients than the last wave,” Zoch said. challenged us. “

Zoch said his hospital’s IC beds are “nearly full … We are lucky to have CHOC Children’s next door and talked to them about giving them space for use if needed.”

Dr. Stephanie Chao, director of pharmaceutical services at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, said she experienced a “great sense of relief when she saw that big truck pull up” to deliver the first doses of Pfizer vaccine Wednesday morning.

“I know our department has worked hard … and we do it every day to support each other,” said Chao. “We feel like Hoag has worked hard to prepare to endure of different peaks.plans in place that we can activate and are already activating, so as an organization we just work hard, we do everything we can … Some days we just run on adrenaline and hope that some light is on the end of the tunnel is workers, we’ll keep going because that’s all we can do, but sometimes we need a minute to get together and think. “

The province’s health officials are particularly struggling to accommodate elderly people with dementia, who are infected and show no symptoms, Chao said.

“We can’t send them to a hospital … They don’t need that care,” Chao said at Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting. ‘And we can’t send them to a nursing home … and we can’t send them to a hotel. “

Those patients are likely to be housed at the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa, which is expected to open Thursday. “But we only have 50 beds available,” said Chau. “We won’t have any more options to care for these people.”

The Chino man was hospitalized in July, fell into a coma and was on a ventilator. Vikki Vargas reported on Wednesday December 16, 2020 on NBC4 News.

“I lose my sleep every night,” he said. ‘I’m afraid. … I have never in my life been so afraid of Christmas and New Year … I can’t imagine what it would be like after the holidays if people don’t listen and don’t obey. “

The last governor’s restrictions are set for at least December 27, but with the increase in the number of cases and patients, “I don’t think we can get out,” Chau said.

Supervisor Doug Chaffee said he received a text message Monday night from a medical professional at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton indicating that the hospital has “99% capacity.”

The hospital’s 301 beds are full of 138 COVID-19 patients, Chaffee said.

“The ICU has a capacity of 105%,” he said. ‘They use every available bed. The emergency department has an overflow … All Orange County hospitals are in the same situation. It’s awful so they’ll be pitching a tent in the parking lot soon, probably for triage. I think what we are seeing is not a wave, but a tsunami. ”

To meet the need, mobile field hospitals are being set up to be housed in large trailers with hard-floor canvas tents and temperature-controlled units with running water, toilets, showers and generators, as well as air purifiers.

Fountain Valley Regional Hospital will have 50 additional beds, St. Jude’s will have 25 beds and the UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange will have 50 beds.

An outbreak in the county’s prisons that began last week has now infected 627 inmates, compared to 416 reported Monday. The county is waiting for results from 86 more tests.

Sheriff Don Barnes, who previously limited testing to newly booked inmates, anyone showing symptoms, or those exposed to an infected person, will now try to test everyone in the prisons, according to department spokeswoman Carrie Braun. Prisoners who test positive are confined to a single cell in an isolated state, and all others exposed are quarantined together while waiting for test results, she said.

The province reported a record number of deaths and new cases. Patrick Healy reported on Wednesday December 16, 2020 on NBC4 News.

Meanwhile, Barnes has been ordered by an Orange County Superior Court judge to cut his prison population in half by Friday, meaning 1,800 inmates could be released for home arrest or ankle cuff surveillance or simply released completely.

Provincial regulators unanimously voted to hire an outside attorney to assist Barnes in the legal battle with the American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed a lawsuit to reduce prison population. The supervisors also voted to sue the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for challenging the department to accept criminals convicted during the pandemic from the county jails.

The province is also facing an increase in the number of outbreaks in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. As of Tuesday, 32 skilled nursing facilities have had two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 36 assisted living facilities had two or more cases.

County officials have been asked to provide personal protective equipment, additional training, or personnel to combat the spread of COVID-19 in those facilities, where the main reason for the spread is likely to come from workers who contract the virus outside the site. Kim said.