A staffing shortage and burnout at hospitals across the state are adding to the pressure placed on health care workers and systems, Vanderhoff said.
As a result, some facilities are diverting patients to other hospitals, delaying elective procedures or limiting patient visitors, he said.
“We are in a serious situation,” he said. “Hospitals are being stretched to capacity.”
People experiencing a medical emergency may face longer waits in emergency departments. Vanderhoff encouraged people with moderate or mild conditions to consider contacting their primary care physician, using telehealth or visiting an urgent care of pharmacy clinic before going to the ER.
While facilities are working together to share resource and balance patients loads, if hospitalizations continue to rise, health care workers may have to prioritize who gets urgently needed care, he said.
To help alleviate the pressure on health care staff and systems, people who are eligible should get vaccinated against COVID-19, wear a mask when advised and follow other health guidelines.
“Vaccination is our best key to staying out of the hospitals, and our best opportunity to allow our hospitals to continue their important work of saving lives,” Vanderhoff added.