Area Hospitals Are Stretched to the Limit

It's a nationwide problem and now it’s showing up here in our area. Several local hospitals are turning ambulances away while walk-ins to the Emergency Room are facing a 14-hour wait.

Imaging rushing to the Emergency Room with a problem and waiting for nine hours. That's what happened to one local woman, Michele Kunick.

"I was knocking on a window when my arms burst through. They cut the tendon."

But Michelle's troubles didn't end there. When she arrived at the Emergency Room she found it was packed and had to wait four hours before filling out any paperwork.

"When I got into another room I waited five more hours."

It’s happening at both hospitals in Panama City, and in fact, Dothan's Southeast Alabama Medical Center is in the same boat. They are turning ambulances away in what is called a “Critical Care Diversion.” That means all the hospitals are full and are having a hard time keeping up with the sudden influx of patients they've been seeing the past couple of weeks.

Bay Medical CEO Steve Johnson said the hospitals were always looking for a helping hand. He invited to 70 employees laid off when Gulf Pines Hospital in Port St. Joe closed earlier this week to come to Panama City. He says there are plenty of opportunities for them.

Area hospital officials are asking that you keep Emergency Room visits to emergencies only. If you have a cold or the flu make an appointment with your regular doctor or visit one of the area's walk-in clinics.