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Critical care patients turned away

February 14, 2002

Critical care patients turned away



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


MARTINSBURG, Wa. Va. - For 16 hours Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon, City Hospital officials could not accept any more critical care patients or certain cardiac patients because of a shortage of beds, a hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday.

From 9 p.m. Tuesday night to 1 p.m. Wednesday, City Hospital was on "fly by" status, meaning any cardiac or critical care patients being picked up by ambulances had to be sent to Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown, Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson, W.Va., or the Winchester (Va.) Medical Center, said hospital spokeswoman Teresa McCabe.

Any patients who arrived at the emergency room on their own received treatment, McCabe said.

McCabe said she did not know how many patients might have been sent to other hospitals. Dispatchers in Berkeley County said Wednesday night they could not tell how many people may have been diverted to other hospitals without taking a closer look at dispatch logs.

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City Hospital was put on "fly by" status when the hospital ran out of critical care beds and telemetry beds, which are used for cardiac monitoring, McCabe said.

McCabe said administrators at the hospital could not remember a time in recent history when the hospital was forced to turn away patients.

"This is extremely rare," said McCabe.

Hospital administrators attributed the shortage of beds to a typical increase in the number of patients this time of the year, said McCabe.

Admissions are typically up this time of the year because of the cold and flu season, said McCabe. Surgeries that people have postponed are also often scheduled for this time of the year, said McCabe.

There are 14 telemetry beds and eight critical care beds. Hospital officials have determined that more critical care beds are needed to meet the growing health care needs of the area, said McCabe.

As part of a master facilities plan for the hospital, hospital officials are considering adding more critical care beds at the facility as part of a possible expansion, said McCabe.

City Hospital is licensed to have 260 beds but usually has staffing for about 160, McCabe said.

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