Prepared & Concerned: PeaceHealth Hospital Considers Possible Winter COVID-19 Surge

Nov 5, 2020

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the largest hospital in the Southern Willamette Valley has been preparing for a surge of COVID-19 patients. That has yet to come, but with winter approaching, hospitals remain at the ready.

A PeaceHealth Oregon hospital caregiver puts on Personal Protective Equipment, "donning and doffing."
Credit PeaceHealth Oregon Network

Through August, PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend never saw more than five COVID-19 patients at a time. By mid-September, the hospital was admitting 8 to 15 people with the virus.

PeaceHealth Oregon’s Dr. Jim McGovern said right now, routine care capacity could be expanded without impacting the rest of the hospital. What concerns him is the upcoming holiday season and what January may bring.

“If we see progressive cases like we did after Labor Day and we start to stack them on top of each other,” he said. “I don’t know that we’ll be overwhelmed but we will be at a place where it’s going to be very difficult if not impossible to maintain normal operations and take care of an increase in COVID patients.”

Dr. Jim McGovern, PeaceHealth Oregon Network Vice President of Medical Affairs and COVID-19 Incident Commander says hospital capacity in the South Willamette Valley is solid. At least for now.
Credit PeaceHealth Oregon Network

McGovern pleaded with the community to prevent transmission of the virus. This will reduce the number of vulnerable people becoming sick enough to need a hospital bed this winter.  

(See extended interview material below)

Want to hear more about South Willamette Valley hospital capacity during pandemic? Tap the audio file above for  an extended talk with Dr. Jim McGovern,V.P. of Medical Affairs with PeaceHealth's Oregon Network. 

Dr. McGovern recalls the earliest preparations for the pandemic, describes what worries hospital staff heading into winter holiday season and describes the process for when a PeaceHealth  care worker tests positive for COVID-19.