ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester General Hospital’s Emergency Department has recently had to go on “diversion status,” an operational tool described as a previously rare occurrence, but one that’s becoming more frequent. 

“Diversion status is basically our communication to EMS or emergency medical services or the ambulance corps that we are currently at the hospital is currently in volume-overload in the emergency department and it is incredibly difficult to take more incoming patients at that time,” said Dr. Keith Grams, Chair of Emergency Medicine with Rochester Regional Health.  

“Unfortunately in 2020 and 2021 and the beginning of 2022 we’ve seen that happen a few times… I think we’re about six or so. Again it’s something that is our last-ditch effort to try to get a little bit of a breather,” Dr. Grams said.

During these scenarios, the priority for everyone involved is the safety of the patient. 

While not ideal, it may be the only option, but also creates a very fragile situation. 

“We’re relying on team members and we’re relying on nursing staff to take care of patients in the hospital. Unfortunately, we don’t have the ability to staff all our beds right now so we’ll have a number of beds that are off-line and again rationing out rolling downhill where all those patients that could be in a hospital bed are stuck in the emergency department,” Dr. Grams said.  

The reason behind the more recent uptick in the status, according to Dr. Grams, is due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“The number one right now is actually just hospital capacity, so we are dealing with almost like a new epidemic afterward where the ability to staff all hospital beds has grown incredibly challenging,” he explained. 

The hospital official also emphasizes they will still see you at the ER during an emergency; they won’t turn people away. But it does affect wait times for those not in need of more urgent attention. 

“For those folks coming in with acute sicknesses, we’re generally very good. We’ll still get you in quickly we’ll get the heart attack taken care of the stroke taken care of that type of thing. For folks that are moderately sick, unfortunately, that means that their waits are going to be a little bit longer and we do very creative solutions to get you the care you need,” Dr. Grams said. 

“We will use any space, nook, and cranny that we can add. Our teams do an amazing job working with the resources that they have available to try to get that patient the best care possible given the resources that they do have,” he added. 

News 8 will continue to follow this story and bring you updates as it develops.