PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Hospitals around the region are facing unprecedented capacity amid a COVID surge in the last few weeks.

Physician leaders and front line health care workers from Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Health, OHSU and Providence held a press conference to “provide an update on the escalating crisis facing our hospitals in the Portland Metro area” on Wednesday.

“As we’ve said, we’re in crisis – and we desperately need your help,” said Dr. Renee Edwards, Chief Medical Officer at OHSU said.

The surge has not yet reached its peak – but Oregon hospitals are running out of beds.

Providence Nurse Levi Cole spoke during the conference, saying that nurses are exhausted and devastated to be holding patients hands as they are dying instead of their loved ones.

“The war has changed, the enemy has gotten meaner, and society as a whole has sort of let its guard down,” Cole said.

“I’ve held a lot of people’s hands while they died when it should have been their wife, or their son, or their mother or their father.”

Providence Nurse Debbie Sanchez said the surge in hospitalizations she’s seeing are almost completely unvaccinated people sick with delta.

PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver also held a press conference on Wednesday to discuss hospital capacity, including emergency department volumes, COVID census, staffing, and vaccines.

They acknowledged that the ER wait times are longer than usual, but still reminded people facing life-saving emergencies to come seek care. Only about 10% of their total daily volume is COVID patients, but they are still facing longer wait times than usual.

They reminded people not to come to the ER for COVID-19 testing.

Healthcare workers deployed to Oregon

Governor Brown announced on Wednesday that the state has finalized a contract with medical staffing company Jogan Health Solutions to send up to 500 health care workers to Central and Southern Oregon as well as long-term care facilities statewide. 

Workers from Jogan Health Solutions will be sent to the St. Charles Health System in Bend and Redmond areas, and to Southern Oregon to support Asante hospitals in Medford, Ashland, and Grants Pass, as well as Providence-Medford Medical Center and Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg. 

In another move to increase staffing, Brown said the state also contracted with AMN Healthcare for at least 60 additional nurse and clinical positions. Placements for them was still being determined.