What Is Ambulance Diversion And Is It Legal?

Hospitals Are Using 'Ambulance Diversion' To Refuse Care To Certain Patients

Across the country, this practice is being allowed, with the rules governing the practice vary widely. This includes L.A., Phoenix, Chicago, even New York.


One morning, Tiffany Tate had a headache at her cafeteria job at the Medical College of Wisconsin. During her work break, her condition worsened. Her words were slurring, the left side of her face was drooping. She was having a stroke.

One would think that she was in the right place for this moment: 350 yards away from the most experienced and advanced stroke care hospital in the area. However, her ambulance hadn't taken her to that hospital. After being driven to two other hospitals with limited stroke care, she passed. Why?

A controversial tactic that hospitals across the U.S. have been using, called ambulance diversion, allows hospital officials to determine that the emergency room is too busy to accept more patients. This acts as a "temporarily closed" sign.

I, along with many of you reading I am guessing, thought that this would be illegal. Aren't emergency rooms unable to turn away patients under the law?

Technically, under the law, this only counts if the patient arrives at the emergency room. If ambulances are instructed not to arrive at a hospital, the law is irrelevant.

Across the country, this practice is being allowed, with the rules governing the practice vary widely. This includes L.A., Phoenix, Chicago, even New York. No agency regulates it. No one tracks how many patients like Ms. Tate are turned away, and what their outcomes are. According to researchers, the practice is being abused. And one 2017 study found that

"Black patients had an increased chance of dying from heart attacks and strokes as hospitals in largely minority neighborhoods were going on diversion more often than others."

The beginning of this practice was as a response to overcrowding in ER's, as hospitals cannot turn people away. Although underprivileged communities may be hit by this practice the hardest, this could affect anyone.

If your loved one enters an ambulance, you would hope that the ambulance would not be diverted from the best hospital for their care.

This is one of many problems with our current healthcare system, where providers are unable to meet the needs of patients. However, what if Tiffany Tate had access to primary care that helped manage her condition? What if the risks were caught early on so that a stroke could be prevented or even expected? If all Americans were covered universally for their healthcare, more people would seek preventative care, and fewer people would show up to the emergency room the last minute when their condition is at its worst. Less overcrowding, and more room for people like Ms. Tate, who suffered an unexpected, time-sensitive stroke.

Our healthcare system is in need of revamping, and stories like the Tate family's further emphasizes how dire Americans' situations are.

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.

You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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An Incurable Disease Doesn't Change The Love I Have For You

Because one day the one you love the most is fine and the next day they're not, it causes devastation you never truly recover from.


Loving someone with an incurable disease is the most emotionally straining thing I have ever experienced.

My significant other and I have been together for almost six years. During the summer of 2018, we all noticed the significant changes he was going through. He had lost around fifty pounds and had a lack of appetite. We had figured something was going on, however, we didn't realize it was anything serious.

Fast forward to the Fall semester of 2018. I had visited my boyfriend and we had expressed certain concerns, such as, through the night I would try and get him to stop uncontrollably itching his legs to the point of bleeding, or that he was looking a little yellow and was exhausted all the time. After seeing his sister in November, while I was at school, she pleaded with him to go to urgent care because he did not look good. He was yellow, exhausted, and very sickly looking. We didn't realize that the urgent care visit would be the precedent of the rest of our lives.

After coming home for Thanksgiving and spending a week straight in the hospital with him, it finally set in that something was not right. Between all the vomit, getting moved for testing, the weakness, the constant calling for medications because the pain was so severe, and the almost month-long stay in the hospital, it hit me full force that something was really wrong. Words will never truly describe the emotions I was feeling, or the burden of my thoughts that I felt were too selfish to pass on anyone, so I kept them to myself.

When we finally got the diagnosis, we were surprised. PSC, otherwise known as Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, is an incurable liver disease that affects the bile ducts which become scarred and inflamed, more likely than not lead to cirrhosis and an inevitable transplant. There was no cure, rather the only solution was a liver transplant, and even then the disease can be recurring.

I was thinking selfishly. I was torn in two. What would our future look like? Could we have children? Could we ever do the things we used to?

Loving someone with an incurable disease is a mix of emotions. There is a constant fear in the back of my mind that he is going to wake up in intense pain and have to be rushed to the hospital. There is a constant fear of every time waiting for the bi-weekly blood test results to come back, in fear that his Bilirubin spiked again or he is undergoing a flare up and needs to be hospitalized. There is a constant anxiety that one day he's going to be fine, and the next day he won't be. Even the simple things, such as laying beside one another, was a constant fear I had, due to the pain he was in every day. What if I hit him in my sleep on accident? What if I accidentally hugged a little too tightly and caused him pain?

Loving someone with an incurable disease can be a fluctuation of emotions, however, he makes it worth it.


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