Hospitals prepare for solar eclipse

Salem, Ore. (KGW) – The anticipated crowds for the upcoming August 21 solar eclipse are putting Oregon hospitals on the defensive.

For the past year, Salem Health hospital officials have been planning, but they say nearly every emergency room will be over capacity.

The Marion County hospital is in the path of totality, and that’s why they’ll be so busy. All hotel rooms and campsites, Airbnb properties and spare rooms in people’s houses are full. Officials say that means more drug overdoses, alcohol poisoning, car accidents, burns, fights and heart attacks.

“The city of Salem expects as much as a half million in the city or around the city, that’s our service area That’s going to produce a tremendous patient surge,” said Salem Health’s Wayne McFarlin, who is a former police chief and officer and disaster preparedness specialist. “Lots of people without a lot of restroom facilities, there’s tremendous infection potential.”

The turnaround area where ambulances drop off patients, will have triage tents for lesser wounds so they don’t take up a precious ER bed. There will even be a sobering-up tent for overdoses and alcohol.

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