Asante hospitals prep for projected Omicron peak

SOUTHERN OREGON, —The latest Covid-19 projections, show hospitalizations climbing statewide, surpassing the Delta surge. Halfway through January, researchers say the fast-spreading Omicron variant will exceed the previous Delta-peak, back in September. Oregon Health and Science University is forecasting a peak of 1,652  people hospitalized by the end of this month, a new record.

“You may say, ‘oh how many weeks away is it, how bad could that get?’ It turns out from other countries, and other states we can see that the hospitalized population goes up very quickly,” said Dr. Graven.

OHSU’s Dr. Peter Graven publishes the projections. He says region 5, which is Jackson and Josephine counties, will see the biggest impact next month after the majority of the state gets hit.

“My guess is the census will start shooting up and because of being smaller towns and rural areas, it may get there slowly but we’re talking a week or two behind at most,” said Dr. Graven.

Dr. Graven says the infections will impact pretty much everyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated because Omicron is so contagious. For hospitals, that means having enough beds available, enough supplies on hand, and enough staffing.

“The biggest concern is making sure we have enough beds for all the patients, that’s one of the things we take into account with our surge planning, we’re anticipating a large number of people and in that, we’re looking at where we can put people, how do we make sure we have them staffed,” said Lauren Van Sickle, Asante spokesperson.

Van Sickle says from the Delta variant, Asante learned how to get creative with where to put patients safely, while still providing quality care. She says Asante is now prepared to use unconventional spaces if it comes to that.

“Just any space within the hospital facility, so it could be a hallway, it could be a lobby, it could be a cafeteria, we don’t know at this point. Those are the last resorts but we want to make sure should we need it, we’re prepared for it,” said Van Sickle.

In the meantime, some support is coming to hospitals. Earlier this month, Governor Kate Brown ordered hundreds of National Guard members, to help combat the surge of COVID-19 cases. 1200 Oregon Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen, mobilized last week to help in 40 hospitals across the state. Major Rob Ranit, with the 186th infantry in Ashland, says he believes local guard members will be deployed to Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach, Asante hospitals in the Rogue Valley, and Providence Medford.

“Our state mission is to remain ready to assist with safeguarding property, lives, and reducing human suffering,” said Major Ranit.

Van Sickle says Asante will see around 130 National Guard members across its Medford, Grants Pass, and Ashland locations. She anticipates the national guard will be here at least till the end of February.

NBC5 News Reporter Jenna King is a Burbank native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at the U of O, she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through interning with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors, or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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