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Full SNMH diverts some ambulances elsewhere

“Detour” and “no vacancy” signs might have benefited Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital on Wednesday night.

With beds filled to capacity and some patients on gurneys in the hallways, ambulances were being diverted to hospitals in Auburn and Marysville, hospital spokesman Gary Cooke said.



“It doesn’t happen often,” he said. “We just got backed up, and we had no beds in either critical care or post-operative care; and we had patients in the hallway.”




Ambulance-driven patients with life-threatening problems, such as heart attacks and blocked airways, and patients who didn’t arrive by ambulance were still being admitted.

“If you get there on your own speed, they’ll take you,” Cooke said.

A spate of illnesses, mostly patients with chest pain, spurred the diversion plan, Cooke said. It went into effect between 4 and 5 p.m. Wednesday, and by 8 p.m., two or three patients went to Auburn by Sierra Nevada Ambulance, said Emily Grebens, an ambulance dispatcher.

Cooke wasn’t sure how long the diversions would continue, and Wednesday’s patient count wasn’t immediately available. In the past, the hospital’s longest such diversion lasted five or six hours. The last diversion was a few weeks ago, he said.

A Sierra Nevada supervising nurse later told Cooke that Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital also was turning back patients who arrived by ambulance.

It happens a lot in Sacramento, where ambulance drivers often get diverted.

Here, Cooke said, “It’s like life in the big city, sort of.”


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