PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Health leaders in Oregon are warning residents that in the event they have an unexpected emergency, there may not be a staffed bed available for them.
During Gov. Kate Brown’s press conference on Thursday with health officials, health leaders said the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is higher now than at any time during this pandemic.
“We’re overwhelmed and this is really a dire situation,” Dr. Jeff Absalon, the chief physician executive for St. Charles Hospital in Bend.
Officials said the situation impacts all Oregonians not just for COVID, but for other emergencies as well.
In the event of a car crash or a heart attack, hospital leaders say people may not get the care they need as fast as normal. Hospital officials said they’ve already had to postpone or cancel close to 3,000 scheduled surgeries that are necessary for the patients they serve.
“These are patients that have cancer, heart disase, neurological disease, surgeries that are necessary to preserve life and function and they’re being delayed right now,” Dr. Absalon said. “So quite simply put, and I don’t want to mince my words, we’re rationing care.”
KOIN 6 News has been told only patients who have the most severe needs for surgical care are able to get that right now, which is why Dr. Absalon is asking all Oregonians to do what they can to help frontline health care workers who are exhausted and burned out 18 months into this pandemic.
He said they’ve seen too many family members have to say goodbye to loved ones through glass or through an iPad, patients who didn’t believe in COVID even when they were diagnosed with it, and others who didn’t believe in the vaccine until it was too late, and urged everyone to avoid large crowds, wear a mask and get vaccinated.
On Thursday, Oregon health officials announced another record day for cases — 2,971 new confirmed and presumptive cases — and 19 new deaths.
A similar story is playing out to the north. PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center in Longview announced Thursday that it was at maximum capacity and urged people to only seek help there if they were experiencing “true medical emergencies.”
In a post on Facebook, the hospital directed those experiencing a minor injury or illness to seek treatment at an urgent care center. Healthcare workers said the hospital’s emergency department does not provide COVID-19 testing and people should make online appointments for testing.