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KPBS Midday Edition

Local hospitals look for ways to bend, not break during latest surge

The emergency room entrance at UC San Diego Health in La Jolla, Feb. 4, 2021.
Susan Murphy
The emergency room entrance at UC San Diego Health in La Jolla, Feb. 4, 2021.

San Diego saw a new daily record of COVID-19 cases with more than 8,300 cases reported Sunday. Though hospitalizations are lower than last year at the same time, local emergency rooms are stretched to their limits.

RELATED: More than 1 million Americans were diagnosed with COVID over the long holiday weekend

San Diego Union-Tribune health care reporter Paul Sisson joined Midday Edition on Tuesday to talk about how area hospitals and emergency rooms are handling the influx of patients during the latest surge.

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"Where the rubber hits the road is really in the hospitals, and whether or not they end up able to handle the demand," Sisson said.

One strategy hospitals use is diversion, where ambulances go to other nearby facilities to alleviate an overwhelmed hospital. But, as capacity reached concerning levels in multiple hospitals, local health officials were forced to pause that practice overnight Monday.

"The saying in health care is that if everybody is on diversion, nobody is on diversion," Sisson said. "In other words, you're diverting ambulances, but you're not really diverting them anywhere that can take them because everybody is full up."