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Local health officials weigh-in on hospital capacity

“We do have plans going forward to expand our ICU capacity and to maintain all the other services in the hospital,” McGovern said.

Posted: Dec 6, 2020 7:17 PM
Updated: Dec 6, 2020 7:19 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore.— With a surge in hospitalizations across Oregon, PeaceHealth officials said they’re handling the number of COVID-19 patients, but anything can change at a moment’s notice.

Dr. James McGovern, PeaceHealth’s Vice President for Medical Affairs, said RiverBend has dozens of patients hospitalized with COVID-19. He said this has been the norm since Labor Day. Before then, RiverBend was treating one or two patients with the virus. Now, it’s anywhere around 30 to 40.

McGovern said RiverBend’s ICU is running at normal capacity this time of year. What makes this year different is patients are being treated for one disease. He said RiverBend will expand the ICU, if needed.

“We do have plans going forward to expand our ICU capacity and to maintain all the other services in the hospital,” McGovern said. “We're working hard to keep things as normal as possible as long as possible.”

According to McGovern, one hospital in Salem is currently treating around 70 patients with COVID-19. Though RiverBend is not seeing that many hospitalizations at once, he said anything can change overnight.

McGovern said what makes this surge differ from the beginning of the pandemic is that images of overwhelmed doctors and hospitals are now happening here in Oregon.

“With 30 plus patients in the hospital at any given time and looking at the epidemiology curves and just seeing them rise steeply...what New York went through in the beginning seems so much more real in this point in time then all summer,” McGovern said.

He said what keeps him up at night is the possibility of RiverBend becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. He said doctors and nurses are feeling some fatigue, but he’s confident RiverBend will be able to handle any surge that could happen in Lane County.

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