“The emergency department, due to a variety of reasons, is in crisis,” said Yale New Haven Hospital Chief Operating Officer Michael Holmes.
He pointed out that 95% of the hospital’s 1,541 licensed beds were full on Friday.
“We do have periods of time where we have patients that are waiting in the hallway,” said Holmes.
Yale New Haven is not alone; other hospitals across Connecticut are also reporting high capacity levels.
New London’s Lawrence Memorial Hospital is also at 95%. A spokesperson for Middlesex Hospital in Middletown said it’s currently stretching the limits of its capacity, as well.
Bristol is at 73% capacity, slightly lower than it was pre-pandemic. However, its emergency room’s volume has increased by 20% just in the last two weeks, according to Deann Drury, the ER’s assistant nurse manager.
“I think we’re seeing not just Covid but flu now, as well. We didn’t see a lot of flu last year with the Covid pandemic, but now people are out and about and maskless,” said Drury.
She added that doctors offices and urgent cares have reached capacity as well and said that those patients are landing in the ER.
“People are having a really hard time getting appointments at urgent cares and walk-ins,” she said. “They are getting three to four-hour wait times just to get a call back from the doctor in order to do a health screen in order to come in and get swabbed.”
At the entrance to the children’s hospital at Yale New Haven, a temporary expansion to handle the overflow of adult emergency room patients is under construction. It is one of five spots where the hospital is adding extra capacity for a total of 100 more beds for in patient, out-patient and emergency care.
“Which we’re going to use for low acuity, the lowest level acuity emergency department patients,” explained Holmes.
The beds are supposed to be set-up from January to June.
According to the Connecticut Hospital Association, the state’s overall hospital bed capacity sits at 82% and it is confident they’ll have enough capacity to meet future patient needs.
However, after two years fighting a pandemic, this latest surge is pushing some to their breaking point.
“It’s been a tough couple of years, but really recently the last couple of weeks have been increasingly worse,” said Drury. “It’s starting to take a toll on the nurses. They’re doing a fantastic job but at some point it’s got to give.”
Holmes said some employees are moving to less stressful areas within the medical field and that the biggest pain points are in the ER, ICU and surgery department.
“Our teams are tired. So, we’ve dealt with the pandemic, we’ve run to this pandemic, we’ve delivered some of the best outcomes,” he said.
Holmes added that the hospital has offered incentives to staff to help fill the gaps as the it tries to recruit and retain more staff.
He also urged patients to seek treatment at their local urgent care or doctor’s office before coming to the ER and reminded everyone to get their Covid and flu shots.
“A lot of people use the emergency department where there’s other alternatives for them to seek care which is just as good as the emergency department for those types of things," Holmes continued.