A hospital goes "on diversion" when there are not enough beds or staff available in the emergency room or the hospital itself to adequately care for patients.
When a hospital goes on diversion, it notifies area Emergency Medical Services (EMS) units so that they can consider transporting patients to other hospitals that are not on diversion.
Patients still have the right to request transportation to the hospital of their choice. However, going to a hospital on diversion means that the patient may have a lengthy wait before receiving treatment.
A hospital on diversion is not closed and it's emergency room is not closed. Hospitals always accept patients who arrive on their own, or who are brought by family or friends to the emergency room. However, if the illness or injury is not serious, the patient may have to wait longer than usual to see a doctor. Hospitals always accept unstable patients who are bought by ambulances.
So why don't the hospitals just add more beds and hire more people? It would be great if the situation were this simple. Unfortunately, it is not. Although many hospitals have plans to add beds and medical monitors, the staff shortages cannot always be as easily resolved in many communities. Therefore, there are times when hospitals may have beds, but do not have qualified personnel to take care of all of the patients. At this time, diversion remains a safeguard for emergency care.