SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is echoing calls from local emergency services and departments overwhelmed amid the current COVID-19 surge.
WSAV has heard from a number of health officials who say they’re being stretched to the limit with 911 calls.
“We have more patients than we have beds. That’s what they’re seeing at a lot of facilities,” said Dr. Alan Brown, chief medical officer at the Southeast Georgia Health System.
“Some of the ramifications are you have to cancel elective surgeries in order to make sure you have enough capacity,” Brown added. “People are waiting for a greater amount of time waiting for beds to open up.”
According to DPH, many hospitals across Georgia are having to declare themselves on diversion, meaning they’re unable to provide normal emergency care to those arriving by ambulance.
Officials are urging the public to reserve 911 for medical emergencies only.
Local doctors have said they’ve seen an increase in patients coming to hospitals for COVID tests. The DPH alluded to residents contacting communications centers like the Georgia Coordinating Center (GCC) with their own questions and concerns.
“The public should NOT call the GCC with questions or concerns,” DPH stated.
“To help keep hospital emergency departments open and able to treat medical emergencies, individuals seeking COVID testing should not go to hospital emergency departments,” the state health department added.
DPH also encouraged Georgians to use the best defenses against COVID: getting the vaccine, wearing a mask and washing hands frequently.
“COVID vaccination is available statewide and is our best tool for ending this pandemic and reducing the overwhelming strain on EMS, the healthcare system and healthcare providers,” DPH added.