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Valley hospitals limiting ambulance transfers with rise of respiratory illnesses

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FRESNO, Calif. – The Fresno County Department of Public Health has an “assess and refer” policy in place amid a rise in cases of COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and other respiratory illnesses.

Residents are being asked to avoid calling ambulances and other emergency services if they are not experiencing a serious medical emergency. The policy is also in place in Kings, Madera and Tulare counties.

“We are trying to slow down the the number of non-emergent type patients accessing the emergency department,” Dan Lynch, Fresno County’s Emergency Medical Services director, said. “Most of the hospitals are working at disaster levels with very high capacity issues within their facilities.”

The Fresno County Department of Public Health said ambulances will continue to respond to 9-1-1 calls, but will evaluate patients before transporting them.

Patients are being asked to instead use urgent care or clinics for non-emergencies.

Esther Quintanilla reports on diverse communities for KVPR through the Central Valley News Collaborative, which includes The Fresno Bee, Vida en el Valle, KVPR and Radio Bilingüe.
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