Portland doctor says surge in COVID cases is overwhelming hospitals

Coronavirus

This doctor says every hospital in Portland has been on emergency department divert lately

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon physicians and nurses say they are overwhelmed and bed space is severely limited as more and more people need care due to COVID-19. 

Dr. John Moorhead, an attending physician in the emergency room at Oregon Health & Science University and Doernbecher Hospital, said the surge in COVID-19 cases that they are seeing statewide is being driven by people who aren’t vaccinated. 

Moorhead said when he starts his shift, he now typically finds 30 or 40 patients who are waiting for a hospital bed in the emergency room. He said unfortunately, the situation is similar in every hospital in the state. He said the limited bed space is negatively impacting patients who need urgent help with other conditions, such as a heart attack, stroke or trauma. 

“Every hospital in Portland is currently on emergency department divert and transfers into the hospital are being diverted,” Moorhead said. “So, the smaller hospitals in which physicians are caring for time-limited conditions – heart attacks, strokes, traumas, etc, are getting frustrated because they have nowhere to send patients for higher levels of care.” 

Moorhead said the larger hospitals are so full of patients that it’s backing up emergency room patients who are waiting for beds. He said it’s not allowing them the usual capacity to treat emergency department patients. 

“We are really not able to deliver the care to patients that they expect, even in acute situations,” Moorhead said. 

He said physicians and nurses are frustrated. The patient numbers are challenging the whole system and the hospitals might lose nurses and physicians to burnout because they are so overwhelmed. 

In the long-term, Moorhead said they will have to work on issues affecting the workforce. For now, people can help by getting the COVID-19 vaccine.  

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