Medical officer says Piedmont Newton seeing local ambulance patients when on diversion

Medical officer says Piedmont Newton seeing local ambulance patients when on diversion

COVINGTON, Ga. — Piedmont Newton Hospital’s chief medical officer says patients that local ambulance services bring to the hospital will receive care even if those from other counties are turned away.

Dr. Norris Little told members of the Newton County Board of Commissioners that he wanted to clarify the term “patient diversion” because many believed it had a different meaning as Newton and other area hospitals deal with the heavy demand for their services amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Out of county ambulances should not bring their patients to our facility,” Little said, in explaining the term.

“That doesn’t stop them necessarily but if they have another option and another choice at another facility,” he said.

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“All of our patients in our community that need care with our own ambulance service are certainly … brought to Piedmont Newton if appropriate,” Little said.

Little spoke as part of an update Chairman Marcello Banes asked him to give to the board.

The chief medical officer said the hospital system was rolling out available COVID-19 vaccine and giving doses to its front-line workers, the elderly and those with chronic conditions.

News reports may have highlighted some adverse effects from the drug but Little said it was “quite rare and we’ve not seen them.”

He said Piedmont is making doses available to the eligible groups who are now patients of physicians in the hospital system’s clinics.

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However, outside agencies are coordinating the availability of doses at health departments and supermarket pharmacies such as Kroger and Publix, he said.

Little added that the hospital’s primary patient population in Newton County has generally done a better job of taking precautions to not spread the disease compared to some neighboring counties.

As a result, he said the hospital staff has been able to avoid contracting the disease. 

The prevalence of the disease in Newton County also has generally been lower than neighboring counties, he said.

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