SUSQUEHANNA, Pa. (WHTM) — Paramedics and EMTs with Susquehanna Township EMS, along with other first responders in the region, have experienced something rare and concerning in recent days — being told recently they can’t take a patient to a hospital.

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“It’s provided by the dispatch center and it described the capabilities of a hospital specifically at an ER and over the weekend it built up until sometime last night,” Don Kunst, Susquehanna Township EMS, said.

Kunst says by law a hospital can’t turn anyone away, but the overloaded emergency rooms create extra stress for patients during their ambulance ride.

“People interpret that to mean we can’t take any patients, what it really means is we don’t have enough staff to monitor those beds and provide you the care that you expect,” Kunst said.

Some emergency rooms are so overcrowded, people are waiting hours to be seen.

“Our primary mission is to care for the most critically ill and sick and injure patients,” Dr. Craig Skurcenski, vice president for Emergency Medicine Central Pa., said.

But, not everyone has to go to the ER, especially during the day. Dr. Skurcenski says whenever possible, people should go to Urgent or Express Care to help ease the burden on the system.

“These locations are very skilled at diagnosing and treating low-risk illness and injuries like ankle sprains and bumps and bruises,” Dr. Skurscenski said.