Diversions and transfer delays plague hospitals overwhelmed by COVID cases

By noon Tuesday, the hospital’s 144 beds were over-capacity with 206 patients and the staff was stretched thin. Bache had to temporarily house patients in older areas of the hospital that had been previously closed and unstaffed while they figured out another solution. The staff was asked to take more shifts to man those spaces.

But even after exhausting all they could, patients kept coming and the hospital was forced to stop accepting ambulance traffic for a full seven hours until more space was made — a process known as diversion.

“That’s not something we take lightly, and we rarely have had to do that,” Bache, who is also the vice president of medical affairs for the hospital, said. It was the second time in 20 years that Elkhart General, which is one of two hospitals in the county, had to make the call, she said.

“This is exactly why we were adamant about masks and flattening the curve. This is the situation that we wanted to avoid.”