Los Angeles ambulance workers have been told to stop transporting some patients with extremely low chances of survival to the hospital and limit oxygen consumption as COVID cases overwhelm medical resources.
California has emerged as the latest epicenter of the US coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 4,000 people have died in the past two weeks alone, and hospitals are bracing themselves for another spike that is expected from the holiday season.
In Los Angeles, where packed hospitals have turned away ambulances, doctors were ordered Monday not to transport adult cardiac arrest patients unless they could be resuscitated on-site.
The district's emergency services authority also issued a guideline for emergency workers to conserve oxygen by only giving patients with very low concentrations.
Marianne Gausche-Hill, director of the local EMS agency, told CBS that medical professionals "are not giving up on resuscitation on the ground," but that transporting patients with "very poor outcomes" who cannot be resuscitated "affects us Hospitals Might Have ".
California was originally praised for handling the March pandemic, but is now wavering. In the past seven days, more than twice as many cases were recorded as any other state, which put a huge strain on resources.
"Many hospitals have reached a crisis point and are making very difficult decisions about patient care," said Christina Ghaly, director of health for Los Angeles County.
Firefighters trained as paramedics were called up temporarily to assist hospital staff, while army engineers were called up to strengthen oxygen systems in six hospitals.
"We are likely to see the worst of conditions in January that we have been exposed to during the entire pandemic – and that is hard to imagine," said Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for Los Angeles County, Monday.
Positive COVID cases in the country's most populous county have doubled to 800,000 in just over a month, with more than one in five currently testing positive.
"The steepness of this line is appalling and has implications for our healthcare system, our healthcare workers and everyone we care about," she added, referring to the data.
Vaccinations for rescue workers and those most at risk in California have begun, but Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday the process was "too slow".
So far, barely a third of the 1.3 million vaccines dispensed have been administered.
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LA Ambulances Suspend Transportation of Some Patients Due to COVID Exposure (2021 Jan 5)
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