Hospitals respond to surge in Covid-19 patients

MEDFORD, Ore. — “Our ICU capacity has been a concern of ours from the beginning of the pandemic,” said Staci Nevin, director of nursing at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.

Covid-19 cases surging across Oregon, the impact hitting local hospitals systems.

Nevin says patient numbers are always in flux, but ICU beds are filled at higher rates than normal.

“Due to how isolated we are geographically here we are one of the only places that have that number of critical care beds in our southern Oregon and Northern California region,” said Nevin.

Nevin says Asante has been working on its surge planning since the pandemic started in March.

With plans to get more ICU beds from other hospitals, hire or train more critical care staff, and in a worst case scenario, set up tent-like structures beyond the walls of its hospital.

“They have HVACS. We could do everything in a tent we do in house, if it got to that point,” said Nevin.

Thankfully, Nevin says, that surge plan isn’t needed yet.

But with the holidays approaching, Jackson County Health Officer Dr. Jim Shames isn’t optimistic it’ll stay that way.

“I’m very concerned. When you see the kind of rapid rise in cases that we saw a couple weeks ago. We know a certain percent of those cases are going to get really sick,” said Dr. Shames.

Dr. Shames says it’s not that hospitals like Asante won’t be prepared to meet the growing demands. It just means hospitals will be overwhelmed and there will be more unnecessary deaths.

“We’ve got a big problem coming. People should be worried. Hospitals are going to be stressed,” he said.

Providence says it too is prepared for a Covid-19 surge.

It says the number of ICU beds at its hospitals are essential, so hospitals can treat not just Covid-19 patients but patients with serious health conditions as well.

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