MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Individual lives, communities, and businesses aren’t the only things returning to normal. In some aspects, hospitals are as well.
But that normalcy, comes at a price.
“We saw a decrease in some extent to our volume throughout the pandemic last year largely due to COVID. We’ve seen a lot of that volume return. In fact, a slightly higher volume than expected for this time of year,” said Dr. Ben Bowman, Methodist Germantown Emergency Department Medical Director.
What Methodist is experiencing is similar to that of other hospitals, such as Baptist DeSoto.
“Our ED volume has actually increased to pre-COVID levels,” said Dr. H.F. Mason, Baptist Memorial Hospital DeSoto Chief Medical Officer.
Dr. Mason said they are seeing a combination of everything when it comes to health issues.
“We see anything from sniffles and sore throats, to patients with COVID, to actually trauma patients,” said Dr. Mason. “One of the things that is maybe causing a hang up in the ED is we are seeing sicker patients admitted to our hospital.”
Hospitals have a flow. In order to admit more patients, others need to be discharged.
“Once a decision is made to admit a patient into the hospital, it takes time to move that patient out of the emergency department into a room inside the hospital itself. Depending on the availability of the room and the type of room that patient might need, we do everything we can to reduce that amount of time,” said Dr. Bowman.
COVID-19 cases added to the packed emergency rooms.
“We are seeing a significant increase in our COVID patients that are coming to the ED - not only patients that need to be admitted, but those patients who come who are diagnosed with COVID who are able to be discharged home,” said Dr. Mason.
Staffing is also down.
“We have seen a decrease in our nursing staffing across the Methodist Le Bonheur system. I know Methodist is doing everything they can to recruit heavily,” said Dr. Bowman.
“We do have search plans as our COVID volume increases,” said Dr. Mason.
Does this mean I’ll get turned away from a crowded ER?
“We never turn anybody away from the ED,” said Dr. Mason.
“We don’t do that,” said Dr. Bowman. “There are times when we’ll announce to the EMS operators that we are on critical advisory… We will do that as a way to alert our EMS partners and any patients that may be arriving by ambulance that we are currently approaching or at capacity.”
Regardless of the capacity, hospitals are always open and ready to help.