News Headlines Article

California ERs in critical condition
San Diego Union-Tribune

Alex is a middle-aged man with many health issues, not the least of which is mental illness. To make matters worse, he’s an alcoholic and homeless. He’s brought into the emergency room so often that he’s joined the ranks of the so-called “frequent fliers.”

Joe is a young man barely getting by. He has insurance for the first time through Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid, but comes to the emergency room for care because he can’t find a specialist who takes Medi-Cal.

Anne is in her late 30s with a couple of kids and a good job. She’s brought her kids to the emergency room several times when they were slightly ill because it was too hard to see a doctor elsewhere at a convenient time.

At emergency rooms in San Diego County and across the state, these scenarios are occurring more often. Emergency rooms are reaching capacity more frequently, beds for new patients are unavailable and full ERs must request ambulances to bypass them for other hospitals.

The reasons are myriad, the problem complex. And it’s more than hospitals can handle alone.