Omicron surge is undermining care for other health problems

The omicron surge this winter has swamped U.S. hospitals with record numbers of patients with COVID-19. But it has also caused frightening moments and major headaches for people trying to get treatment for other ailments.

Less-urgent procedures have been put on hold around the country, from cochlear implant surgeries to steroid injections for rheumatoid arthritis. And people with all sorts of medical complaints have had to wait in emergency rooms for hours longer than usual.

For instance, Mat Gleason said it took 48 hours for his 92-year-old father to get a blood transfusion at Los Angeles-area emergency room. The procedure is needed to treat a blood disorder. Gleason said the transfusions usually take 10 hours at most.