As people with the flu streamed into Missouri hospitals this month, small facilities at times struggled to find places where they could transfer patients who needed higher levels of care. J. Christopher Lang, the CEO of Cass Regional Medical Center, said his hospital in Harrisonville has had to divert ambulances to other emergency rooms when his was full and hold patients who needed to go to bigger hospitals when those facilities were on diversion.

“We’ve run into it off and on over the last couple of weeks, so yes, there’s been some inability to transfer to a higher level of care because of beds being full,” Lang said. Dave Dillon, a spokesman for the Missouri  Hospital Association, said the state saw “a significant jump in ambulance diversion” in January that represents “the increased strain on hospital EDs (emergency departments) and could reflect inpatient bed availability.” Dillon said diversion hours statewide climbed from 0.45 percent in November to 0.65 percent in December to 3.54 percent in the first two weeks of January. READ MORE