Local hospitals are reporting a surge in volume and deaths from non-COVID patients.
Bakersfield Heart Hospital, local Adventist Health and Dignity Health locations have been seeing the same trend. It started with a drastic drop in patient populations at the beginning of the pandemic.
Sharlet Briggs, CEO of Adventist Hospital Bakersfield, observed in March, “people that would normally come into the emergency room to be checked out, they’re delaying that care because they’re afraid of coming into the hospital or they’re thinking that we’re so busy with COVID patients that they don’t want to bother us.”
Now, four months into the pandemic, it’s the reverse. There’s been a recent surge in non-COVID patients who put off treatment until it was too late.
“We have seen people who have waited for too long and come with a heart attack, and then have lingering damage to the heart that compromises the quality of their life going forward,” said Dr. Brij Bhambi, the Chief Medical Officer at Bakersfield Heart Hospital.
Dr. Hemmal Kothary, Chief Medical Officer at Dignity Health, added, “we’re also seeing more strokes at home. These are time-sensitive illnesses that if you don’t get them taken care of immediately, it could cause more damage.”
At Bakersfield Heart Hospital, CEO Michelle Oxford says their occupancy has more than doubled. They see people come in sicker than usual and more people going into the emergency room. Dr. Bhambi said there have been just as many non-COVID cardiovascular deaths as COVID deaths.
“We’ve had people who’ve died waiting for intervention,” Dr. Bhambi explained.
Not only is this a problem for patients, but it could become an overload for doctors and nurses.
Medical professionals are urging everyone to come in to prevent their illness from becoming more severe and to prevent hospitals from becoming more overwhelmed. Each hospital has taken similar measures to ensure the utmost safety.
“We are what we call cohorting these COVID patients so that COVID patients end up on a certain floor away from the non-COVID patients,” Dr. Kothary said. “To date, we have not had any patient-to-patient transfer or staff-to-patient transfer in any of our hospitals.”
Dr. Bhambi added, “the healthcare facilities are very safe. Please do not deny yourself the preventable cause of death.”