Lane County COVID-19 update, Jan. 20: Oregon hospitals worry about staffing, beds

·4 min read

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Lane County reported one death and 794 confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 Thursday, raising the death to 364 and the countywide case count to 42,954.

The count of county residents considered infectious was 2,912, a 6% decline from Wednesday's 3,113. It was the third consecutive drop in the daily infectious count.

There were 58 county residents hospitalized Thursday, up 9% from Wednesday's 53, with 11 in intensive care, up one from Wednesday, and two on a ventilator, unchanged from Wednesday.

Of the 58 county residents hospitalized Thursday, 69%, or 40, were unvaccinated, Lane County Public Health reported.

As of Wednesday, 270,789 people in Lane County, 71.01% of the total population, had received first or second vaccine doses with 626,609 first and second doses administered in Lane County, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

— The Register-Guard

Hospitals worry about staffing, beds

Officials are sounding the alarm on staffing shortages and lack of beds across Oregon hospitals.

An unprecedented spike in hospitalizations is on the horizon as the omicron variant continues to sweep the state, and the lack of available hospital beds is pushing the system to a breaking point, Becky Hultberg, president and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, said Thursday.

Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 aren't as sick as they were with the delta variant, but the sheer number of patients, exacerbated by a lack of staffing and discharge challenges, has the potential to overwhelm the health care system, she said.

Forecasting released earlier this month from Oregon Health & Science University predicts a late-January peak of 1,652 people with COVID-19 taking up hospital beds in Oregon. That would be 30% higher than the delta variant's hospitalization peak of 1,200 people in September.

Hospitals statewide are currently treating 921 patients with COVID-19, including 134 in intensive care unit beds.

The state's adult ICU bed capacity is at 93% and non-ICU bed capacity is at 94%. The normal capacity for hospitals is between 60 and 70%, Hultberg said.

Between staff who are have left the profession and those who are out sick, hospitals are in a much worse position with staffing than they were at any other point during the pandemic, Hultberg said.

Nationally, one in five health care workers has quit their job during the pandemic. Hultberg did not provide exact data for Oregon but said the state is on par with national trends.

The staffing shortages are causing hospitals to rely on contract staff, an expensive and unsustainable option, Hultberg said.

The state is also relying on Oregon National Guard members, who started their second hospital relief mission Tuesday with approximately 500 soldiers and airmen supporting 40 hospitals throughout the state.

The number of service members will increase to 1,200 by the end of January. They will be responsible for serving in non-clinical hospital roles for about a month.

Statewide, hospitals are also facing challenges with discharging patients to other long-term care and recovery facilities, Hultberg added.

As of Thursday, Oregon hospitals have 582 patients who are ready to be discharged but have no place to go. Examples of these patients are those with payer issues, behavioral health challenges and unhoused populations.

Additionally, 229 patients across the state are waiting for emergency department beds to free up, she said.

Hultberg pointed to a national blood shortage and limited supply of monoclonal antibodies, which help fight the virus, as another challenge.

— Salem Statesman Journal

Willamalane closes swim center and Splash! park due to staffing shortages

The Willamalane Park and Recreation District has closed its swim center and Splash! at Lively Park for at least a week due to COVID-19-related staff shortages.

Both facilities closed early at 2 p.m. Wednesday, and are expected to stay closed until next Thursday at the latest, according to a news release. Williamalane will re-evaluate next Wednesday whether it can reopen, according to a news release.

The closure also will impact swim lessons, the fitness center and all other programming in those facilities. Willamalane will be in touch with those signed up for programs impacted by the closures, according to the release.

— The Register-Guard

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This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Lane County COVID-19 update: Oregon hospitals worry about staffing, beds

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