By Yamiche Alcindor
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 13, 2009
Hospital emergency departments across the region are overflowing with patients who have been battered by the recession and are increasingly using hospitals as their primary source of health care, according to local and national health officials.
At the District's Providence Hospital, emergency room visits increased by 13 percent in the past year. In Montgomery County, the number of patients seeking free care at community clinics designed to divert people from emergency rooms rose by 43 percent, many of them referred by hospitals.
The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, which represents 106 community and specialty hospitals, said many of its members are at the breaking point. "Emergency rooms are being stretched to their limits," said Chris Bailey, the group's senior vice president.
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