Ambulance Diversions Increase in Pasadena
Hospital closures in the San Gabriel Valley have led to an increase in ambulance diversions from emergency departments and longer response times from paramedics who must drive farther to find open EDs, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports.
In 2005, hospital EDs diverted one of every three ambulances in Pasadena, and more than 400 of the estimated 12,300 emergency calls received by the Pasadena Fire Department had to be transferred to another city or private company because paramedics were unavailable.
In 2004, there were just 139 diverted calls, according to Kevin Costa, Pasadena Emergency Medical Services battalion chief. From the time paramedics leave the station to when they return, Costa said an average emergency call now lasts 52 to 55 minutes because ambulances must drive farther away to find an ED that will accept a patient.
Huntington Hospital -- the only remaining hospital in Pasadena -- closed its ED for more than 4,000 hours in 2005 and diverted nearly 2,000 ambulance calls to other hospitals.
Huntington spokesperson Connie Mathews said other hospital closures in the area have created a surge in patients at Huntington's ED. Mathews said the hospital treats almost twice the number of patients for which it has the capacity and staff.
The fire department plans to add a new ambulance and six paramedics to its staff of 65 in 2007 and will purchase a new rescue ambulance to try to alleviate some of the diversion strain (Fielding, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, 8/2).