Patients having to wait in ambulance for hospital beds to free up

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 11:00 AM EDT
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PULASKI CO., Ky. (WKYT) - Ambulance services in southern Kentucky are still seeing a high run volume.

COVID-19 has created, what the director of the Somerset-Pulaski County EMS says is, a “critical” situation.

There are currently more than 35 patients being treated for COVID-19 at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital and, with so many covid patients, sometimes it’s difficult for the local EMS crews to find empty beds when they arrive with patients.

That happened Monday when several ambulances were waiting in the parking lot for a bed to free up.

When it comes to patient transports, sometimes the closest bed is on the other side of the state or even out of state.

Steven Eubank, the director of the Somerset-Pulaski County EMS, says COVID-19 has had a way of creating a bad domino effect for first responders to deal with.

“If the hospital doesn’t have beds, then the ER gets backed up, when the ER gets backed up, then it backs up our patients. We don’t want them sitting in the hallway, so, at times, the hospital will ask us to wait in the truck with those patients until there is a place here we can taken them that has the negative ventilation to protect the others in the hospital,” Eubank said.

FEMA’S strike team has been in Somerset for several weeks and will be there until at the least the end of the month to assist with patient transports. They team has been a big help but Eubank says, sadly, there’s still plenty of patients to go around for everyone.

Eubank says a normal run used to last about an hour but, with COVID-19, sometimes those last three to four hours now.

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