An empty coffin is delivered to an LA funeral home, while a patient is wheeled into a makeshift emergency room and another lies on a ventilator in hard-hit Los Angeles (Pictures: Getty/AP/Reuters)
Hospitals in Covid-hit Los Angeles have switched from trying to save some seriously-injured patients to providing ‘comfort and withdrawal care.’
Dr Christina Ghaly, director of Los Angeles County’s Department of Health Services, warned that if paramedics cannot revive gravely-ill patients on the scene, they will no longer be brought to hospital for live-saving treatment.
Ghaly said: ‘We are practicing compassionate withdrawal and comfort care, as opposed to the mantra where we do everything we possibly can and exhaust a lot of scarce resources at the expense of patients who have a lot higher chance of survival.
‘We are enacting policies with our partners at the county level, whereby if someone experiences a cardiac arrest in the field, which is not the same as a heart attack, but if someone’s heart stops, our dispatchers provide instructions for CPR.
Emergency medical technicians and healthcare workers treat patients outside the emergency room at the Community Hospital of Huntington Park, California, on December 29 (Picture: Reuters)
‘We’ll have an engine company respond, we’ll have paramedics respond with an ambulance, and we do everything we can on scene to resuscitate you.
‘But if our paramedics and cannot get your heart beating again on scene, we no longer will be transporting those patients because we know by the literature, those patients have virtually zero chance of survival.’
Ghaly warned the same policy was being enacted for victims who’d suffered other types of severe trauma, including car crashes, shootings and stabbings.
She spoke as intensive care capacity across Los Angeles County remains at 0% because of a surge in Covid cases, with case numbers expected to worsen further in the coming weeks. LA County has more than twice the number of Covid cases – 827,498 – than the next worst-affected county in the US.
A cross rests on the body of Gilberto Arreguin Camacho, 58, who died due to Covid-19, during visitation at Continental Funeral Home on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2020 in East Los Angeles, California (Picture: AFP)
It also has the greatest number of deaths – 10,850 – although the five separate counties that comprise New York City have seen more fatalities overall.
People in Los Angeles have also been discouraged from dialing 911 unless they face a grave emergency, with patients facing 12-18 hours waits for emergency treatment.
Suspected Covid patients should only call for help if they are experiencing severe chest pain and breathing difficulties, ABC7 reported.
Ambulances are also waiting hours to offload patients at packed hospitals, with some facilities setting up makeshift beds in parking lots to treat the influx of patients.
Dr Ghaly said the surge in patient-numbers was having a knock-on effect, with ambulances waiting to discharge patients prevented from traveling to other people who need help.
She and her fellow experts expects Covid cases to hit their peak in the next few weeks, as a result of Christmas and New Year get-togethers.
The US has now seen 20.8million confirmed Covid cases, and close to 354,000 deaths.
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