DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — It is no secret Midstate hospitals are crowded right now, so what happens if a time comes that no emergency room beds are open, but people need care? 

“When we’re short on beds in the ER we actually bring the providers to the front of the house, I worked yesterday seeing patients actually the last four days and I provided care in the waiting room,” Doctor Anthony Guarracino, UPMC Chair of Emergency Medicine said.

Guarracino said at the start of the pandemic, people were hesitant to visit emergency rooms. That has changed and a lot of those people seem to be showing up all at once. Now he says the emergency room is becoming a place people use for problems that are not always urgent.

 “What we’re experiencing right now really is unprecedented, even by, shall I say previous COVID experiences,” Peter Dillon, Executive VP and Chief Medical Officer at Penn State Health said. 

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Dillon said all ERs are being challenged by the number of patients needing care. What’s critical is ensuring patients who really need the care can get it. 

Neither health system says it has had to turn away patients, but Dillon says Penn State has had to divert some patients, based on the level of their emergency. He said that does not include patients with acute needs like a stroke or cardiac problems.   

His advice is to get vaccinated and to go over symptoms with your primary care doctor before deciding whether to go to the ER if it is not an immediate emergency.