Health & Wellness

Relief on way for beleaguered hospitals

As cases of the highly transmissible Omicron Covid variant continue to stack, the Oregon National Guard is again scheduled to arrive in Lane County on Friday, Jan. 21 to assist strained hospital staff.

“The assistance is so appreciated at this critical time in the pandemic,” said Elva Sipin, who is the vice president of operations at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend. 

The guardsmen will be in town for a month, and will assist staff at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield and Sacred Heart Medical Center University District in Eugene. Additional National Guard service members may be assigned to Cottage Grove Community Medical Center. 

Their role will be nonclinical, and will prioritize food services and environmental service during their stay. This support is part of the National Guard’s broader effort to provide relief to Oregon hospitals as cases rise of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Gov. Kate Brown last week ordered an increase of National Guard members, with up to 1,200 Oregon Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen mobilized, increasing from 500 to over 1,200 guardsmen in 40 hospitals across the state. 

This activation follows a prior deployment of over 1,500 Oregon National guardsmen that provided support from August to December 2021 in the same fashion to area hospitals. 

Meanwhile, the state continues to inch toward Gov. Brown’s goal of getting 1 million more people in the state a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the month. When the challenge began in mid-December, 949,749 people had received a booster dose. Since then, 390,311 Oregonians have received a booster.

In the face of rapidly rising Omicron cases, public health authorities are focusing more on outbreaks in high-risk settings and less on interviewing individual cases and conducting contact tracing. 

Health officials are urging that people not visit an emergency department for COVID-19 testing, unless emergency care is required for your symptoms.

Emergency departments in Oregon are under significant strain. Statewide as of Jan. 18, there are 62 available adult ICU beds out of 662 total (9% availability) and 250 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,107 (6% availability).

 In our region specifically, which includes Coos, Curry, and Douglas in addition to Lane counties, there are 16 (18% availability) adult ICU beds available and 63 (11%) non-ICU beds available. 



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