Oregon hospital group warns the weeks ahead will be tough, amid Omicron surge

SOUTHERN OREGON, Ore. —Oregon hospital leaders are sounding the alarm on the widespread Omicron variant. We’re learning more about the challenges both the facilities and their patients face, in the weeks ahead.

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems shared an overview of statewide hospital capacity Thursday. It said there are currently 1,059 hospitalized Covid patients in the state, 74 more than Wednesday. The President and CEO of the organization, Becky Hultberg, says this Omicron surge is vastly different than Delta last summer.

“Our Delta hospitalizations peak was just over 1,200 and we’re on track to exceed that possibly by this weekend and maybe early next week,” said Hultberg.

That surge hit southern and central Oregon harder than other regions. Now, she says Omicron is impacting the entire state.

“The good news is that most patients in the hospital with Covid aren’t as sick as they were with the Delta wave, but the sheer number of patients, exacerbated by staffing and discharge challenges, has the potential to overwhelm the health care system,” said Hultberg.

That backs up what Providence Medford Medical Center’s CEO told us earlier this week. It’s seeing an increase in patient volume at its emergency department, urgent care, and testing sites. Valley Immediate Care says its seen the volume increase in testing, exposures, and positive cases. On a given day, it’s testing around 200 to 250 people in the Rogue Valley.

“Our test positivity rate has hovered around 20 to 25% every day for the last two weeks, so a pretty rapid increase in cases,” said Valley Immediate Care CEO, Brent Kell.

More cases means more hospitalizations, and the OAHHS says hospitals now have worse staffing levels than they did at any prior point in this pandemic.

“After two years on this COVID-19 roller-coaster many staff want off. Staff are physically and emotionally exhausted in dealing with challenging patients and conditions, ” said Hultberg.

And she warns the next couple of weeks, will be difficult.

It says another issue plaguing hospitals, is the national shortage of blood, as well as limits on the supply of Monoclonal Antibodies.

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Jenna King is the 6pm anchor and our Feature Reporter at 10pm and 11pm 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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