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“Expected To Get Worse Before It Gets Better” Lane Co. Hospitals Brace For More COVID Patients

Rachael McDonald

Lane County hospitals are at capacity with COVID-19 patients and the problem is expected to worsen in the coming weeks.

At a media briefing Wednesday Dr. Buck Scholz with McKenzie Willamette Medical Center in Springfield said right now they are making due and able to handle their patient load.

“I’m really worried about us being able to absorb covid cases or patients needing hospitalization for any reason from the surrounding area, so suffice it to say, it’s an all hands on deck situation and, unfortunately, expected to get worse before it gets better,” Scholz said.

Scholz said the majority of their COVID patients—roughly, 90-95 percent-- have not been vaccinated against coronavirus. He said if the vaccination rate were where it should be, this surge in cases and hospitalizations would not be happening. 

Both McKenzie Willamette and Peacehealth are considering how the National Guard might be able to help since the governor activated troops to assist Oregon hospitals.

Lane County Public Health has seen an increase in demand for COVID-19 vaccine shots since it started offering a $50 gift card incentive.

Jason Davis with Lane County Public Health said demand has gone up tenfold since last week. But, some people also express concern over the Delta variant.

“It has made its way around the globe in just a matter of months,” Davis said. “And that is something we need to pay attention to. It’s causing some concern in the community and that’s driving people to get vaccinated as it should.”

Davis said about 100 people per day are coming to Public Health clinics for vaccine shots. Most of the patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

Lane County is offering a booster vaccine clinic for people with immunocompromised conditions this Friday. 

Copyright 2021 KLCC.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s former News Director. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000. After reporting for the Northwest News Network and KAZU, Rachael returned to KLCC in 2007 as Morning Edition host and a general assignment reporter covering politics, the environment, education, and the arts. She was hired as KLCC News Director in 2018. Rachael departed KLCC in June, 2022.
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