Staff shortages strain Oregon hospitals amid omicron surge
Nationally and locally, omicron is putting a strain on healthcare: not with an excess of patients, but with a shortage of staff.
Jim McGovern is Chief Medical Officer at Peacehealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend in Springfield.
“So, this is a different surge,” he said. “The last one was about patient volumes. This is about staffing. We have 100 staff out on quarantine right now. They’re part of the community. They’re getting COVID like they haven’t before.”
McGovern said they’re having a hard time moving people out of the hospital into nursing facilities because those places are short staffed too.
On Friday, Lane County reported its largest number of new COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started two years ago-- 1,246 new cases in 24 hours.
Lane County COVID-19 Incident Commander Steve Adams said the hospitalization rate hasn’t gone up like it did in the delta surge.
“We continue to see our hospital capacity remains in very good shape,” Adams said. “We see much less in the way of hospitalizations and ICU bed utilization. Much of this is because of the level of vaccination that we have seen.”
Lane County has a vaccination rate of 73%. Adams urged those who haven’t been vaccinated to do so and those who haven’t had a booster to get one. Vaccination can prevent severe illness from COVID. And boosters have been shown to be more effective in preventing infection.
Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden visited Peacehealth and Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg Friday. He said as chair of the Senate finance committee he’d push for tuition reductions for nursing students.
The Oregon National Guard arrived this week at local hospitals to help with the staffing crunch.
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