Long-term care problems cause challenges for hospitals

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. —The Covid-19 pandemic continues to strain our healthcare system. In our region, there’s a backlog of patients because of a shortage of long-term care facility resources.

The OHA says statewide hospital capacity has been improving as cases of RSV, the flu, and Covid decline. But it says there are still pockets of high hospitalizations around the state. Hospital leaders say this is putting extra pressure on them to act as a safety net.

“We spend hours moving pieces around to make space for each patient coming in when we know it will never be nearly enough because patients won’t discharge or leave the health care system for extended periods of time,” said Amanda Kotler, Chief Nursing Officer at Asante.

Some Oregon hospitals are having trouble discharging patients from hospitals. The people may not be healthy enough to go home and yet not ill enough to stay in a hospital bed. But long-term care facilities often don’t have enough staffing or space. This results in people remaining in the hospital, creating a backlog of patients taking up valuable beds, that could go to someone else in need.

“These patients are waiting in hallways, in bays, recovery rooms for days we have gurneys in our waiting room at Asante Rogue Regional medical center, this is also 240 additional patients we have to find nurses for,” said Kotler.

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Healthcare Systems says statewide 449 patients are still in hospital beds waiting to be discharged. 240 patients or emergency boarders who are waiting for those beds. 28 pediatric ICU beds are available in the state.

“Patients are having surgeries and procedures delayed sometimes for months, sometimes they arrive there to find out there’s no bed for their procedure, patients who could get care locally end up getting diverted to another community, some patients aren’t receiving care at all,” said Kotler.

The OAHHS says there could be a variety of reasons for the problem, like staffing challenges for example. Throughout the pandemic, its seen reduced numbers of beds in skilled nursing facilities, and adult foster homes, and the state hospital even closed to new admissions.

Laura Hennum, the CEO of Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis, says each day it’s a surprise discharging patients.

“We have to find out on a day-by-day basis which facilities are open, which facilities have affected beds available, and just as the acute care hospitals have been dramatically impacted by staffing limitations we’ve seen a deeper level of that at these long-term care facilities,” said Hennum.

To help combat the problem, the state is looking at providing extra staff to these long-term care facilities, and for home health care. We’ve talked about those efforts before, but they do take time.

For more information about Oregon’s long-term care resources click here.

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Jenna King is the 6pm and 11pm anchor for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship 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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