Local doctors propose 1 hospital for all coronavirus cases; administrators say no

The idea to designate PeaceHealth's University District as a central hub for COVID cases was rejected by hospital officials as unnecessary.

Posted: Apr 7, 2020 7:22 PM
Updated: Apr 7, 2020 10:45 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Two local doctors proposed isolating all Lane County coronavirus cases in one Eugene hospital, but the idea was rejected by hospital administrators as unnecessary.

“Last week at a staff meeting between Tony Ballinger and myself, we came up with the idea that isolating the COVID patients in one facility would be beneficial to both the other hospitals who are basically sitting on their hands right now,” Eugene neurosurgeon Dr. Glenn Keiper said.

Keiper said PeaceHealth’s University District Hospital should be the designated facility, so RiverBend Hospital and McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center could focus solely on non-COVID cases. He said the fear of COVID may be keeping some patients away from the hospitals, leading to lost productivity and worse.

“If a person has chest pain and doesn't go to the hospital and ends up dying of a heart attack because they’re scared of being infected with COVID that would be a tragedy,” Keiper said.

Keiper said he contacted Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis about the proposal.

"(She) thinks it’s a good idea but it’s dependent on health care professionals being positive about the idea and being willing to implement the idea,” Keiper said.

Dr. James McGovern, Incident Commander for PeaceHealth’s COVID-19 response and Vice President of Medical Affairs for PeaceHealth Oregon, suggested that a COVID hub is not needed at this time.

“At this time, all of PeaceHealth’s local suspected and confirmed COVID-19-positive patients are being cared for in two designated units at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield,” McGovern said. “We have contingency plans in place to care for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients within additional units at RiverBend, as well as our other hospitals in Lane County, while also tending to those non-COVID patients. We feel prepared to deliver excellent care to all our patients, even if we were to see a large local surge.”

Jason Davis with Lane County Public Health said that a triage site is something officials have considered, but it is not a needed strategy at the present time.

“We convene all of our hospital partners and other responders weekly and we talk about the different objectives and different strategies to employ, and that meeting is happening tomorrow,” Davis said.

KEZI 9 News did reach out to McKenzie-Willamette for comment but have yet to hear back.

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