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Hospital diversion leads to three-hour hospital trips in Pittsylvania County

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 5:35 PM EDT
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BLAIRS, Va. (WDBJ) - As hospitals are filling up with patients in the southside, Pittsylvania County Public Safety is seeing more EMS calls.

“We are seeing here almost 100 calls more a month EMS-wise than where we were last year at the same time and almost 200 more than were we were two years ago,” said Pittsylvania Public Safety director Chris Slemp.

With SOVAH Health in Danville and Centra in Gretna being at opposite ends of the county, calls usually take over an hour to complete. With hospital diversion taking place throughout the region, that time can triple.

“When they call for these non-emergency calls and these hospitals are on diversion, we are sending ambulances to Lynchburg and this kind of stuff, which takes the ambulance out of the system,” said Blairs Fire Chief, Dean Fowler.

Fowler says those three-hour calls are weighing on volunteers.

“That is what is causing the shorthanded and personnel issues we are having, because they are being over-taxed just to go out of the area and carry somebody to a medical facility,” said Fowler.

“When they run a call and have to go to Lynchburg and Roanoke, that call turns into three hours, your employer doesn’t look at that as good as he does when it is 45 minutes to run a call,” said Fowler.

Fowler and others in public safety are hopeful their services can be used where it is needed most.

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