FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Hospital space has been tight enough in Tarrant County that ambulance services are watching it almost by the hour.
On Wednesday, MedStar Mobile Health ambulances were dispatched to 111 COVID-19 related calls, the highest number in a single day since the pandemic began. Patients were transported to the hospital on 90 of those calls. Calls over the last week are up more than 30% since the start of the month.
“If now we really need to start worrying about hospital capacity and figuring out the best patient flow, that’s something we literally need to know hour to hour,” said Matt Zavadsky, a spokesman and chief strategic integration officer at MedStar.
He said paramedics had also moved a few patients this week from facilities in the hospital district near downtown Fort Worth to facilities in the suburbs that have more space.
Tarrant County data showed hospitals countywide Thursday were at 77% capacity, a few points lower than earlier in the week.
Zavadksy said while the service has had positive cases among staff, mostly due to community spread, it’s managing the increased call volume through employees working overtime and taking extra shifts.
He also said the service continues to see a higher than normal amount of people waiting too long to call for help for non-COVID emergencies.
Cardiac arrest calls were more than 20% higher in October than last year during the same period. The increase is largely attributed to patients ignoring early signs of a health issue, fearful of going to a doctor or hospital due to the virus.
Zavadksy said they are continuing to recommend people not wait to call 911, regardless of what’s happening with the virus. When health issues are addressed early, he said, paramedics can assess a patient’s condition and it won’t always involve a hospital trip.