As the date of the solar eclipse approaches, hospitals across the state are in emergency preparedness mode. In central Oregon, St. Charles Health System anticipates a huge increase in demand for medical services and supplies.
St. Charles Health System has hospitals in Bend, Redmond, Prineville and the small town of Madras which is smack dab in the eclipse’s path of totality.
Dr. Jeff Absalon is Chief Physician and Commander for the Emergency Coordination Center for St. Charles.
“We serve a population of approximately 220,000 people today” says Dr. Absalon. “ And we are anticipating an influx at least 280,000, could be much more than that.”
Dr. Absalon says they are more than doubling up on things like blood, ventilators, medications and of course, staffing. There is a freeze on time-off during the eclipse. And, the hospitals are taking steps to increase access to emergency care.
“We have made a decision to cancel our elective surgeries for an 8-day period of time,” Dr. Absalon says. “To create space for patients that will need beds in our hospitals or traumatic injuries that will require surgery.”
Emergency transportation is another important consideration for the hospitals. Dr. Absalon says the Air National Guard is bringing in additional aircraft to help with patient and supply transport.