Full Hackensack hospital diverts ambulance arrivals

12 08 2007

Hackensack University Medical Center was accepting all ambulances Friday evening after diverting some of them to other hospitals over the previous 24 hours due to high patient volume, officials said.

Hackensack had to turn away ambulances with critical-care patients between 8 p.m. Thursday and 2 p.m. Friday, because all 58 beds in the hospital’s intensive-care unit were occupied, said Patricia Ahearn, vice president of capacity management at Hackensack.

“For us to be on critical care [ambulance] bypass is exceedingly rare,” Ahearn said Friday.

“It’s unpredictable,” she said. “But it’s extremely unusual at this time of year. This is usually one of our slowest months.”

The hospital also diverted ambulances with trauma patients and regular-care patients with non-life-threatening injuries for several hours on Thursday, because beds were not available, Ahearn said.

The actions were taken “in the interest of patient safety, and to maintain quality of care,” she said.

Physicians at Hackensack couldn’t explain why the hospital has had such an influx of patients and occupied beds.

There does not appear to be any one cause for the emergency-case glut, said Dr. Joseph Feldman, chairman of the emergency trauma department.

“It’s a whole variety of stuff, from bad infections to heart attacks to traumas,” Feldman said. “It’s nothing specific, not the wet weather, or heat emergencies.”    [Northjersey.com]



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