West Tennessee hospitals to start triaging care

In a letter to officials, the University of Tennessee Department of Emergency Medicine said they will have to start triaging care to patients.
Published: Aug. 22, 2021 at 12:36 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The UT Department of Emergency Medicine and Memphis Area Emergency Department Medical Directors sent a letter to local city and county mayors on August 16, describing the current state of Memphis/Shelby County hospitals during this second wave of the pandemic.

The letter obtained by WVLT News, said they do not have any more room for patients.

“Currently our system emergency departments are operating dangerously over capacity and housing dozens of admitted patients in each of our Emergency Departments,” officials said in the letter. “Projections for COVID patients are that hospitalized patients will double by the end of this month and increase six-fold by the end of September. That increase would produce more admitted COVID patients than the city has hospital beds for on any normal day. These are greater numbers than we have yet faced in the pandemic and do not account for non-COVID patient emergencies such as stroke, heart attack, and trauma.”

Due to the increase in patients, staff started to triage patients in order to decide who will be seen.

“To be clear, we may be unable to provide timely care to everyone and will have to make choices about delivering care to patients based on their probability of survival,” officials said in the letter. “Currently, the city has no surge capacity to accommodate any additional disaster or unplanned events.”

Medical officials recommended a mask mandate be reinstated until 80% of the eligible population is vaccinated.

They also stated that the crisis is due to a lack of skilled personnel.

“There are already mitigation strategies being employed by the hospitals, such as managing elective and even urgent surgeries and extending nursing ratios with volunteers, but this is a temporary stop gap measure and will likely NOT keep up with the surge, even if a city-wide mask mandate goes into effect today.”

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