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New COVID Protocol Means Valley Ambulances Might Not Take You to Emergency Room
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By Jim Jakobs, Digital Producer
Published 3 years ago on
December 19, 2020

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“We are in a very grim, challenging time when it comes to the pandemic,” Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said in a Friday afternoon briefing with reporters.

Emphasizing the point, Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties will begin sending paramedics with ambulances on Friday to determine whether a patient requires transport to a hospital emergency room, said Dan Lynch, director of emergency services for Fresno County.

If it’s determined that a patient doesn’t need to go to the ER, they will be advised to drive themselves to a nearby urgent care clinic.

“This is precedent setting,” Lynch said.

Region Again Falls to 0% ICU Capacity

According to the California’s COVID-19 dashboard on Friday, the 12-county San Joaquin Valley Region is once again down to 0% ICU bed capacity. The latest available data showed Fresno County hospitals had a total of 13 ICU beds available on Thursday.

The county has reported 49,918 cases of COVID-19, according to its tracking dashboard, with 553 patients currently hospitalized.

Since the pandemic began, Fresno County has registered 557 deaths, with dozens more still being processed, according to Vohra.

DOD Team Coming to CRMC

A Department of Defense military support team from the Air Force is expected to arrive on the December 28, Lynch said.

“The DOD team will be working in the ICU as a huge benefit to CRMC,” he said.

DOD teams will also be sent to Southern California and the Bay Area.

Lynch said both St. Agnes and Community Regional Medical Center have received some additional staffing support from state resources.

Image of Maj. Gen. Michael Stone visting Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, California, and the military medical team deployed there to fight the coronavirus pandemic
Maj. Gen. Michael Stone paid a visit to CRMC to meet with his COVID-19 medical support team in July. (CRMC/Mary Lisa Russell)

Alternate Care Sites

A team contracted from AMI Expeditionary Healthcare that includes doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals have worked this week to open an alternate care site within CRMC. Officials said about 12 patients are being cared for in the newly established wing in the downtown hospital’s North Medical Plaza building.

All of the site’s 50 beds will be available by Monday, they said.

If the CRMC alternate site meets a 45 patient threshold, it will trigger the utilization of the Fresno Convention Center as another alternate care site, county health officials said.

“The way the demand is at the hospitals right now, it does appear like we’ll be opening the Convention Center,” said Lynch.

An alternate care site in Porterville currently has 4 patients with 9 more on a wait list. Lynch says staffing limitations are hindering the site’s ability to become fully operational.

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