St. Vincent’s ER sees rush of patients as road conditions improve

Washington County

This weekend's snow and ice made it difficult for patients to reach the hospital

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For nurses at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Washington County, there wasn’t much calm after the Valentine’s Day weekend winter storm. In fact, an emergency department nurse said there was a surge of patients Monday morning. 

“I think patients that were unable or too afraid to go out on the weekend came in on Monday, because we saw a huge spike on Monday,” Tracey Hull, an emergency department charge nurse, said. 

She said the rush lasted into Monday afternoon and a lot of the patients were walk-ins. Several injuries were related to the winter weather. 

“We had several people that had falls and slips and sledding accidents, but we also did see some motor vehicle crashes and then we did have a case of carbon monoxide poisoning because they were using the heat to stay warm,” she said. 

Over the weekend, Hull said the snow and ice affected getting patients to and from the hospital. Their family members were impacted as well. Hull said one family stayed the night in hospital beds because of the icy road conditions. 

ER staff also felt the effects of the snow. Many had a difficult time driving to work and asked fellow coworkers for rides. A few were unable to come to work because the road conditions were so bad where they live. 

“We had nurses helping other nurses and techs… picking them up and bringing them into work. We had staff stay at the hospital and spend the night in units that were not being utilized over the weekend,” Hull said.

Some ER staff are still without power at their homes and their coworkers who have electricity are offering warm showers and shelter for those in need. 

Hull said as of Wednesday, they’re not experiencing nearly as many injuries or illnesses related to the weather, but they are still being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and their resources are still stretched thin. 

Oregon Health & Science University and Legacy Health told KOIN 6 News their hospitals in the Portland metro area did not see an increase in emergency room visits during the snow storm. 

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