Geisinger out of beds amid COVID-19 surge; practicing ‘waiting-room medicine’

Geisinger out of beds amid COVID-19 surge; practicing ‘waiting-room medicine’

Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger health system was running at 110 percent capacity across its nine hospitals in Pennsylvania as of Dec. 8, officials with the health system said during a Dec. 8 news conference.

Geisinger’s president and CEO Jaewon Ryu, MD, said the system has run out of hospital beds amid a COVID-19 surge, largely among unvaccinated patients who represent a quarter to more than half of all admissions. 

“We’re almost two years into this, and it still feels like every day is a crisis when we go to work,” said Essie Reed, MD, an emergency physician at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and Geisinger’s director of emergency medical services. “It’s probably worse than it was last year,” she said. 

With backed-up emergency rooms and waits as long as 10 to 20 hours, Geisinger health officials said some ER physicians are practicing “waiting-room medicine,” diagnosing patients with perforated bowels and other serious conditions, while some COVID-19 patients receive oxygen in crowded hallways. 

An average of 4,680 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized across Pennsylvania as of Dec. 8, marking a 26 percent increase over the last two weeks, according to data from The New York Times. The state was also averaging nearly 8,000 new cases Dec. 8 — a 24 percent jump over the last 14 days.