Ambulance restrictions aim to help hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 surge in Fresno County

CBS47 News

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – Fresno health officials are sounding the alarm as cases COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the Central Valley.

With hospitals filling up, health officials are implementing a new strategy to make sure medical facilities don’t reach a breaking point.

Fresno County is taking extra precautions to make sure that precious hospital space stays free and that means implementing restrictions on who will be transported to the hospital when an ambulance is called.

“We are really working very hard to try and keep people that do not need to be in the emergency department, out of it,” says Dan Lynch, Fresno EMS Director.

The county now moving to an “assess and refer” policy where EMTs will now decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not a person needs to go to the hospital when an ambulance is called.

Public health announced on Wednesday that they will be receiving 84,000 testing kits with a distribution plan already in place to help out the community.

“We chose 32 zip codes based on the amount that is the most burdened and impacted by COVID,” says Joe Prado, interim asst. director at Fresno Public Health.

The kits will be available on the health department’s website and will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

A portion of the kits will be distributed to 27 community-based organizations to hand out to the most vulnerable as well as restauranteurs to hand out to staff and employees.

“We’ll be setting about 5 different pick-up centers for restauranteurs and the managers to pick up. We’re hoping that everyone will be able to get kits to be used on staff, as needed,” says Raul Gutierrez, a restauranteur.

As the county looks for ways to alleviate hospitals, get more people vaccinated, and get the pandemic under control, officials have an important message to say.

“Hospitals are at a breaking point, this is something that’s forcing us to make changes and that’s going to be reflected in the care that you receive,” says Dr. Rais Vohra with Fresno Public Health.

The health department does not know the exact date that they will receive the testing kits.

Stay with us for the latest information, we’ll post that information when it becomes available.

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