Local Hospital Overflows Forcing Them to Turn People Away

LUBBOCK, TX - The past 10 days were hectic for local hospitals that continued reaching maximum capacity. Hospitals diverted patients to neighborhood emergency rooms like Star ER to manage the influx of people. 

"The numbers of people can easily outnumber the number of resources available," said Dr. Ryan Lewis, a physician at Star ER. "That's when hospitals typically will go on diversion because they feel it's a patient safety issue, and they don't have the resources at the given time."

Many factors contributed to the high volume of patients, including the flu, viral illnesses and outdoor accidents, said Lewis. 

Lubbock-area hospitals diverted patients under surge-capacity protocols, delegating individuals to local emergency rooms when large hospitals reach capacity. 

"Rather than having to put that patient in the waiting room or the hallway, they are able to allow Emergency Medical Services to transport them to Star ER to be seen immediately by a physician," said Lewis.

Overflow problems were not the only issue arising in Lubbock's medical realm.

The national shortage of intravenous fluid (IV) made its way to Lubbock. Both Star ER and West Texas ER acknowledged the shortage.

Typically emergency facilities, like Star ER, were more liberal with IV fluids, but "had to be a lot more strict with it and reserve it for when it's truly indicated for the patients," Lewis said.

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September, it knocked out the central hub of IV fluid manufacturing. Local emergency rooms prepared and overstocked on fluids.

Dr. Rick Peck of West Texas ER said while they have managed to maintain stable levels of fluid during the shortage, they have less access to some medicines made with the fluid. 

Patients are urged not to worry because physicians were prepared to provide complete patient care.

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