Patients visiting a Fresno County hospital or other medical center overrun by the COVID-19 omicron variant should expect less-robust attention from medical personnel, according to the county’s top doctor.
The omicron variant continues to run rampant in California. Fresno County added 1,807 new cases to its tally on Thursday and nine more deaths than the previous day, bringing the totals to 165,316 and 2,413, respectively, according to state numbers.
Fresno County interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said Wednesday that patients seeking medical help of any kind can expect longer wait times, different visitor policies, prioritizing of patient needs and facilities that won’t schedule elective surgeries.
“I think the general public needs to know, the care that they receive will be different. I think we need to be very realistic about that,” he said. “The hospitals are at a breaking point. This is something that is forcing us to make these changes and that’s going to be reflected in the care that you can expect to receive.”
That could also include medical providers not testing patients for COVID if they are not symptomatic even if the patient asks for it, he said.
Fresno County tallied 356 people in hospital emergency rooms on Wednesday, including 55 in intensive care units, medical officials said. That’s 73 more people in a hospital bed than a week ago.
One effort the county is pursuing to help those bustling hospitals is bring in state teams to accept patients quicker from ambulances, according to Dan Lynch, emergency medical services director for Fresno County.
“They’ll accept patients from those ambulances and get the ambulances back on the street and into the communities,” he said. “This is a big deal so we are pursuing that very aggressively.”
The county has already implemented the “assess and refer” policy when responding to medical calls to 911, which means emergency medical personnel who arrive in an ambulance will assess a patient to see if the person truly needs to be transported or can be referred to another medical provider.
Vohra said this week about one in 10 hospital staffers has tested positive for COVID-19 in the Fresno County region, which further affects care. Community Medical Centers, for example, reported 717 employees are in self-isolation, and 690 have tested positive for the virus.
Other Valley counties
Tulare County added 676 cases, which means the total since March 2020 rose to 76,943, the state said on Thursday. Four more deaths were added to the total, which is now 1,192.
Merced County reported 313 more cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 48,441 during the pandemic, according to the state. Two more deaths pushed the total to 710.
Madera County has totaled 26,952 cases after adding 264 from the previous day, but did not change the 329 deaths, according to the state tally.
Kings County has 36,780 cases, which is 12 more than the previous day, state records show. Two more people died, bringing the total to 391.
Mariposa County counted seven more cases to bring the total to 1,705, according to the state. No deaths were added to the total of six.