Carroll Healthcare Overwhelmed; Pleads for Help
Westminster, MD, December 30, 2021 – Please read the letter below to the Carroll County community, issued jointly from Carroll Hospital, Carroll County Health Department, Carroll County Department of Public Safety and Carroll County Department of Fire/EMS.
Letter to the Carroll County community,
We write to you, combining our efforts as public safety officials, to plead with you to take action now to help your loved ones, friends, neighbors and the community as a whole. Carroll Hospital, fire and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, urgent care facilities and other community health care providers need your help, and we need it now.
COVID-19, with its variants, is rapidly spreading infection throughout the county, bringing unprecedented stress to pre-hospital (EMS) providers and Emergency Departments (ED) in Carroll County and the surrounding areas. Dramatically increasing numbers of residents are testing positive for COVID and the rapid spread places unequalled pressure on our health care systems and our dedicated front line health providers. Concerning numbers of patients, both COVID-positive and otherwise, are causing many hospitals, including Carroll Hospital, to become overloaded and listed as “Yellow Alert”, “Red Alert” or “Reroute.” (https://www.miemssalert.com/chats/Default.aspx?hdRegion=3)
What does this mean for you?
- With so many people in the hospital, wait times are longer and a bed may not be available if you need one. Ambulances are being held in the parking lots at hospitals for extended periods of time.
- When an ambulance arrives at the hospital ER, non-emergency patients will be placed in the waiting room for what could be an extensive waiting period of even greater than 24 hrs. in some cases. Calling 911 for an ambulance does not guarantee a fast track into a bed at the ED so please don’t call 911 for non-emergency events.
- When Carroll Hospital is overloaded, some patients must be transported to healthcare facilities out of the area. This results in emergency units being out of service for longer periods of time, making them unavailable for other emergency calls.
- The surge in demand for services has resulted in Carroll Fire/EMS units responding more frequently to assist in other jurisdictions, as well as units from other jurisdictions responding to calls in Carroll, creating a domino effect of inefficiencies and challenging the ability to ensure timely response to patients.
- EMS personnel, hospital staff and resources are at a critical level.
Everyone is working hard to continue to serve and protect, but we need the community’s assistance. How can you help?
- Avoid going to emergency departments for issues such as coughs and colds, low-grade fevers and non-life-threatening issues.
- Go to primary care physicians or urgent care centers for non-emergency care.
- Take precautions: socially distance, wash your hands regularly, wear a mask.
- Limit your exposure to others, especially after you have been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19 or if you are experiencing symptoms.
- Get vaccinated and/or receive the booster.
- Help and encourage others to receive the vaccine.
These things will decrease transmission, which will thereby decrease cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. If you have questions about COVID symptoms, when to test, or what to do if you have been exposed, please use the extensive COVID resources at the Carroll County Health Department web page (www.cchd.maryland.gov).
- Use the emergency department as a testing center; go to testing centers (https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/symptoms-testing) or use home test kits instead.
- Go out and/or gather with others when you or a family member is sick.
- Interact closely with those outside your household.
Examples of when to call 911 for EMS:
- Chest pains or persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- Bluish lips or face
- Severe pain which is new onset
- Traumatic injury
- Unconscious or altered mental status
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Stroke with speech difficulty, movement issues or inappropriate behavior
- Allergic reaction with hives, swelling and/or respiratory difficulty
- Fever >101 F with other signs/symptoms
- Seizure activity
- Diabetic emergencies
- Immediate behavioral issues- suicidal
- Childbirth- active labor or complications
- Other emergencies
Carroll County – this is real. We are in a very difficult situation. This is not about politics or personal beliefs. This is about taking care of ourselves, each other, our first responders, our healthcare providers, and our community. You trust us with your medical conditions, you trust us with your emergencies, you trust us with your surgeries. So now it’s time to please do your part by protecting yourself and each other. Regardless of what you believe, put that aside and help us to reduce the pressure on our healthcare system, so that it can return to providing the best care possible to our community.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, our healthcare providers and first responders have been seen as heroes. Now we need the community to be our heroes by helping to limit the spread of this virus: get the vaccine, get the booster, socially distance, gather responsibly, wear your mask in public places, and wash your hands. Please be there for our healthcare workers and first responders, so we can be there for you.
Garrett W. Hoover, President and COO
Susan M. Doyle, RN, Acting Health Officer
Carroll County Health Department
Scott R. Campbell, FPE, Director
Carroll County Department of Public Safety
Michael W. Robinson, MA, CFO, NRP, Director
Carroll County Department of Fire & EMS