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Mobile morgue purchased by St. Charles Bend to store bodies as death toll rises

(Updated: adding St. Charles statistics)

St. Charles acquires refrigerated trailer to increase morgue capacity

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Acting quickly is the norm for health care professionals, especially during a pandemic. But St. Charles Bend is experiencing a new level of challenges. As a result, St. Charles now has a 17-foot refrigerated mobile morgue trailer, to deal with a higher number of deaths.

Lara Simpson, supply chain director for St. Charles, told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday that the hospital's morgue can't keep up with the number of patients who pass away.

Goodman said the hospital has averaged 2.7 deaths a day this month, nearly double the 1.4 deaths a day seen in June, and 64% of the deaths in September have been COVID-related, compared to just 2% in September of last year.

"There were times of day where we would see more decedents than what we had space to accommodate in our morgue," Simpson said.

The morgue at St. Charles Bend only has space for three bodies. Hospital representatives say they've had to store the bodies in other places around the hospital.

As of Wednesday morning, St. Charles has 90 Covid-19 patients, 17 of whom are in the ICU, with 15 on ventilators. Simpson said in one week alone, 19 people died, 13 of them from Covid.

"It's preventable. That's what's so sad," Simpson said, joining other health experts in noting that most of those seriously ill and in the hospital were not vaccinated.

That's why the hospital purchased the $82,000 trailer. Simpson says there's always been a need for more space in the morgue, but the hospital has never experienced this many decedents in a short timeframe. That's why the purchase was made, a decision not taken lightly.

"That was a heavy, heavy week for me," Simpson said. "And I'm so grateful we were able to get one so quickly."

The mobile morgue is able to hold 24 bodies. It can run on both electricity and a diesel generator. The Acela Truck pull-trailer was delivered to the Bend hospital last week and is already in use.

Next week, the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners is expected to discuss using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to purchase the trailer from St. Charles. The county’s Emergency Management program could use the trailer as a resource to assist in response to natural disasters, the hospital said.

KTVZ news sources



    1. Nah, there’s plenty of pockets of unvaxxed folks in Oregon, too; e.g., rural areas around here. I live near the hospital and the helicopter landing is very busy bringing in patients from rural areas in the region. Similarly, the Roseburg and Medford areas are getting hammered even worse. All very sad and all very, very easily preventable.

      1. Are you saying the helicopter is bringing in only covid patients? That thing flies all the time and has forever. You realize St Charles gets anything serious east of the cascades right? Heart attacks, strokes, car accidents, etc…

        1. It does bring those patients in from the surrounding areas, but I believe that there are patients being shunted away from the ICU to make room for Covid patients that require that level of care; again, this is partially the result of vaccine hesitancy and the Delta strain being much more communicative. I know that I would not want to be a doctor or nurse faced with that unenviable choice of sending a critical care case to an intermediate care bed. The downside risks are too enormous. Thank you to all medical personnel (especially recognizing all support personnel) who have worked and fought through this pandemic! I know you are tired, but I am praying for you to be relieved soon. Peace.

      2. Yes very preventable. Too bad this virus and the vaccine have been politicized to a point where people no longer trust their own doctors when they are advised to get a life-saving vaccine. We could so be over this by now if people would turn off social media and their favorite confirmation-bias info-news tv stations and listen to the experts instead of pundits.

        Oh, so you got Covid after refusing to mask and/or refusing to take a vaccine because you read online that it’s a hoax and.or any number of conspiracies including but not limited to–that the vaccine includes a tracking device (hello? do you have a smart phone?) or that masks kill you from carbon monoxide (no joke I heard this one recently) So really what you should be doing is if you get sick, stay at home and tough it out. Ask the professionals in your favorite internet site what to do. You know, the guys who got their medical degree from Facebook University and did their residency on Twitter.

        You have a great immune system? PROVE IT. Fight it yourself, without the aid of the medical professionals you won’t listen to. As the old saying goes: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

          1. Oregone: Wow! What rock have you been living under? Why do you think they have vaccinations in the first place? Yesterday in Deschutes County. 17 people in ICU. 2 vaccinated, 15 unvaccinated.

        1. If you are vaccinated, what are you worried about? And after reading all your “deep thoughts” about Covid, how aboitnyounprovodenusnwitjcsome facts? What is the mortality rate of those infected with Covid? Of those infected with Covid they died, how many had underlying issues that really caused the death? I’m just curious because you are ranting about the unvaccinated disturbing your life, when really you are disturbing others people’s lives. You care title or nothing about the unvaccinated, you are just kissed because people who are vaccinated are still getting Covid

            1. Hey Barney you posted the same comment twice by the way forgot to edit one and delete for false info. Oh wait both were. If you are vaccinated and believe in it then why car what anyone else does…. Oh wait the vaccine dosent work as promised.. ahh understand now

            2. But there is no difference between vaxed and unvaxed if vaxed patients can still get the virus…Barney, you lefties need to get your story straight, do the vaccines work? or not?

            1. Why does 73 people in scmc delay someone’s elective procedure? Scmc has approximately 300 beds. If there are only 73 beds full…doea anyone know the average time a person spends in the hospital with covid? I’ve known of 3 people (not vaccinated) that spend 2 days in Scmc, then went home and are doing fine now.

              1. Staff Is limited and exhausted. So in order to care for the critically ill, elective and even some urgent care is being rationed, delayed or not offered until things settle down. Only so much staff available you can’t be part of the problem and demand other services

          1. People with underlying conditions would not have died if they did not get covid. So your and all the others harping on “they died of underlying conditions” are wrong.

            1. Not necessarily true. People with underlying health issues will probably die eventually from a number of things due to their underlying health issues. The point you make is valid only if all other health factors are removed.

        2. 1. Do you know the difference between carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide?
          2. You probably believe carbon dioxide is a pollutant and not an element that plants thrive on.
          3. which experts are you referring too? There are experts on both sides of the argument. there has been since day one.
          4. Ask yourself, “why are doctors not giving life saving early treatments for covid at the time patients are first diagnosed?”
          5. Ask your doctor the same question. Listen to their answer very carefully. Then ask a few more doctors the same question. You will likely get different answers from each of the so called medical professionals you speak of. Go ahead, ask the questions.

          1. There are some things the St Charles doctors are told they can’t say or do even if that doctor does think it is the right thing to do. As someone else on here commented – I also know of a couple who tested positive for the virus that were sent home with no treatment ideas, just as we were when we tested positive – sent home with nothing, 4 day later, in the hospital.

            1. Hospitalization is preventable. The problem is that they won’t do anything to prevent it. Two friends of mine just barely escaped with their lives. Fully jabbed and still ended up on ventilators. One still in ICU but expected to recover after being treated with therapeutics. The other has been released. The jab played no part in their recovery. They almost died despite the jab.

        3. I got COVID in Nov. 2020 and it’s no joke. And I am one of those OCD types who washed the groceries with bleach water. Fully vaxxed and proud of it. Seeing that even vaxxed get the virus, but the fully vaxxed aren’t ending up in ICU at the rate of un-vaxxed.

          It’s so unfortunate that Biden and Harris, and the MSM were anti-COVID Vaxx when trump was our president. They set the precedent for this anti-vax stance. After all, Trump is the person who led the effort to develop these vaccines that the dems so now love, but hated not that long ago.

      1. Yes, because only Trump supporters don’t get vaccinated.
        Dude – get woke and real.
        The vast majority of my liberal friends are the ones who won’t get the jab.
        The lion share of my conservative ones say they have.

  1. Oh… more lefty fear mongering! Its such a disgrace. But by hospital falsely doctors… protocols in St Charles…there killing the patients in the hospital and need the portable freezer. Such garbage.

    1. The need is real. St. Charles has been filling up the coolers at local funeral homes to the point they fear running out of room. Oregon has strict laws on how long bodies can be out of the cooler before a funeral home’s licenses become at risk, and they have no say in taking or not taking the bodies. It’s good to see the hospital and/or the county step up to the plate. If the need passes, the unit can be resold, but growth in the area suggests hanging on to it will be advisable.

  2. Another huge question.
    If this administration is so concerned about the pandemic, then why are they allowing so many to cross the border unvetted and untested and unvaccinated? Where are the mandates there? Why are we the only ones being mandated?

      1. There has always been illegal border crossers. The difference is that the last administration tried to stop it. You do remember the wall don’t you? The wall that Joe stopped construction on.

    1. Great question! Seems we need this answered as the administration doesn’t seem to care about COVID infections of non-citizens, but blames the rest of us for the pandemic. odd.

    1. Perception maybe, but to me the key phrase is, “In one seven-day period alone, 19 people died, all but six from COVID-19.”
      So yes St. Charles needs to expand to keep pace with our population, but it sure would help if 13 of 19 of those people didn’t have covid.

      1. 103 Deschutes County residents died in almost 2 years. Not all at St. Charles either. That is 0.049% of our population, if St Charles can’t accommodate our population they should open the unused portion of the tower addition that is being used for storage. That morgue hasn’t changed in, I’m guessing decades, and as you know our population is a lot higher now then it was then.

    1. No, mostly elderly that are very ill in a population that has added ten’s of thousands if a few years and the hospital is always behind that curve. The morgue can only fit 3 bodies and got to that point 3 times, it was built in the 1970’s….do you know what the population was then compared to now? Maybe they should’ve upgraded it a bit?

      1. Population in Bend was under 15k in 1974 when the hospital was built. Now it’s over 100k because of the growth outside the city limits. I worked there from 1993 until I retired in 2017 and the morgue is in the lower level and wasn’t expanded during that time. So do the math. According to the growth rate it is 10 times to small. Duh!

  3. why is it so hard for people to understand that we all have THE RIGHT to decide whether or not we feel comfortable being vaccinated. I choose not to, because i believe in having a strong immume system, and im a health finatic, most of what i take is herbal supplements. Should we all be forced to put something into our bodies? Some of us unvaccinated still practice social distancing, and respect wearing masks where need be.

      1. i guarantee i’m in better health, and shape then most of the people in this thread, shaming and unable to just accept that some of us don’t believe in being vaccinated, and put a natural immune system over big pharma. I’m native, you going to force me into removing myself from my beliefs again,. like your ancestors did to us?

          1. And completely worthless if you want facts. Any definition on Wikipedia can be changed and saved by anyone, anytime, and it becomes part of wikipedia. You should know better than to use Wikipedia for anything. There isn’t a real journalist anywhere that uses it verify facts….come on Barney….really?

            1. You meant to say no right Barney? Because he does t have any and can’t cite any. Wow Barney, to think that journalist like yourself would cite an online dictionary that any 10 year old can edit and make up any definition they want for anything is amazing. Especially a hard hitting journalist like yourself. That is amazing and laughable. But at least you admit it.

                “The online encyclopedia does not consider itself to be a reliable source and discourages readers from using it in academic or research settings. Researchers, teachers, journalists, and public officials do not regard Wikipedia as a reliable source.[17][18][19] It is seen as a valuable “starting point” for researchers when they pass over content to examine the listed references, citations, and sources. Academics suggest reviewing reliable sources when assessing the quality of articles.”

                1. Ahhhh..thanks for confirming that for me. . Despite what they say about their own site, it didn’t stop you from using an unreliable source did it. Based on this and your own statements, it is highly likely you are the one spreading misinformation

                2. Your conclusion, not mine. They are clearly transparent about their own pros and cons. We use many sources and try to verify their accuracy as best we can. But I’ve yet to be ‘burned’ by Wikipedia. (Some folks, anxious to judge everyone and everything, think we should run background checks on folks we interview on the street, unrealistic is the nicest word I can use for that.)

                3. Barney, you should be embarrassed of yourself. Citing wikipedia as a source of yours, when they explicitly say no one should use them as source. Typical, hard hitting, journalist of 2021. 100% irresponsible

      2. actually you do have rights to not take the vaccine. One of them is a religious right.

        I cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine because to do so would violate there sincerely held religious beliefs. All of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines used cell lines originating from aborted children in their manufacturing or testing. Therefore I am requesting a religious accommodation pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, and Oregon Revised Statutes 659.006(1) and ORS 659.030.

    1. There is some gray area for certain. Being healthy is a lifelong dedication that should be more emphasized in our culture, as we’d all benefit from it and have less chronic issues. Across a general population, those slow, chronic issues have been around for a while and are predictable from year-to-year (diabetes, heart issues, cancer, etc.) To compare that to covid, although I agree that the average healthy person like you or me will likely survive it just fine, the “viral” nature of it is an issue. It takes years to get Type2 diabetes, it takes days to die from covid if it impacts a person.
      Does Oregon have the hospital capacity to deal with thousands of people needing ADDITIONAL medical help on top of the regular medical issues? Not likely. Anyway, that’s just my pragmatic view on why we are putting ourselves through the trouble of precautions, vaccinations, etc.

      1. This is an interesting link to me:

        Looking through the data, we still have double the amount of people dying from cancer and heart disease, why are we not trying to combat cancer and heart disease as fiercely as covid? Why has the nation not been shut down over heart disease? More are dying annually from heart disease than covid. But nobody cares about that, why is that?

        1. Wow! I guess we didn’t know those were such a big problem! Thanks for bringing that to the medical community’s attention! A cure for cancer or heart disease! Why hasn’t anyone thought of that yet?!

    2. I do not subscribe to but do understand your viewpoint and your concerns. I think the best part of your post, though. is saying that you subscribe to those necessary actions that discourage the spread of the disease (masking as necessary, distancing and cleanliness). If we had had a lot more people doing this at the outset of and through the early stages of the pandemic, we might not be where we are today (overloading our health care systems). A certain percentage of the population will not take the vaccine due to beliefs and that is usually factored into epidemiological studies. My sadness lies in the fact that the “politicization” of the issue at the beginning led many down a path that led to a greater infection rate in large pockets, which is a prime breeding ground for new and more virulent and communicable strains of the virus. All I can hope is that we all learn from this and start applying the Golden Rule as regards our neighbors and our community.

  4. Hum…thats strange. My friend that works at the St Charles in Bend told me the deaths are not anymore than usual. Must be the Funeral home shortage. I do know that we have three less than what we had at one time.

      1. Read below. The poster is correct. We have three less funeral homes than we used to. Couple that with the rising population of Central Oregon and you are going to have a problem.

        1. Not all the decedents are from our local area. There are many counties and many towns/cities that St. Charles receives patients from. 19 people died. I doubt they are all from Bend

  5. It is due to funeral home capacity and not St. Charles –

    And has very little to do with COVID deaths –

    BTW – if you are a veteran in Oregon and exploring a booster shot this is what the VA Medical folks here in Bend sent me this AM when I inquired – “We do not have a date as of yet but portland VA is currently doing chart reviews on veterans who may qualify for the booster . We should know more in a few weeks”.

    Point being – only one form of vaccine is approved regarding a booster follow-on; not every veteran needs to consider a booster hence the records review process; even then, the veteran’s primary care provider must make the referral; and appointments made.

    Trust your medical provider; do your homework; ignore the politicians at all levels and the less than educated cat-callers who are so shrill about “the unvaccinated”; and keep moving forward.

    The COVID variants are such that vaccinated folks are getting sick with it as much as anyone else. Seen that with friends and family to date. VETs, take advantage of the VA’s website on COVID updates and talk with your provider. To include booster questions.

  6. “It has been a known gap in our emergency preparedness for a number of years”
    Built in the early 1970s, the Bend hospital’s morgue is only large enough for three decedents.
    This is not because of COVID, it is because of overall population increase, and the hospitals procrastination to keep up. They said it themselves, and now the media is using it to scare you.
    Come on man, they only had room for THREE!

      1. I KNOW they have. When my friend (and I do NOT mention names in my posts due to privacy NOT because I am making something up) died there back in 2012, The family was pushed into making a quick decision on whether to have her cremated or buried simply because St Charles was out of room in the morgue. They begged the hospital to give them a day to decide with the WHOLE family what they wanted done and which funeral home to use. St Charles said no, that she needed to be moved “now”.

  7. I’m having problems keeping track of the narrative here. Liberals are trolling you so you won’t get an effective vaccine? It’s not effective and the Libs are a death cult? It ‘s just like flu season but portable morgues are needed? Y’all need to get on message here.

    1. Neuro, the morgue holds 3 people built in the 1970’s. They had more than 3 people three times. They failed to mention if they ever went over three in the history of st. Charles.

  8. Interestingly enough two patients died this past week at a St Charles facility because they were told they were not vaxxed they couldn’t see them. Does anyone realize how pneumonia works? Any virus can morph into pneumonia depending on your immune system, health issues, etc. H1N1, SARS, and the ordinary flu cause pneumonia in a large percentage of cases. Those makeup most of the hospitalizations in October-March. Flu is a month or so early this year, but the symptoms aren’t a whole lot different.

  9. The uneducated will continue to be the demise of our democracy. They wave their flags and flaunt their disregard for our fellow human beings. We are doomed as a nation because so many people believe in the big lie. There is no hope regardless if you are vaccinated if the 38% that refuse to follow safety measures despite the evidence. Our government was nearly overthrown by a wanna be despot that continues to spread the big lie. If this is the America you want well good luck. What’s next?

    1. Just wondering. When you say uneducated, Are you referring to BLM? Antifa? Our new friends flooding across the border (many with Covid). Or are you talking about the half conscious Baffon in the White House directly responsible for the death of 13 marines and 100’s of Afghans? Just clarifying Say their names!

  10. It’s interesting to see states that have football teams fill stadiums with 100k people and have no surges in case counts. Meanwhile we have to police people in grocery stores. Feel free to research any state that has a football team and check case counts.

    Also, if you scroll through and search through Kate Browns press conferences, you’ll quickly realize how everything we’ve done hasn’t worked. Yet we keep implementing things that we “falsely hope” will work. Lets move on.

    Btw I would love to see the ad revenue numbers for ktvz in the past year. I counted 16 from this page alone…

  11. If the vaccine works and you are protected why do any of you care if people are not unvaccinated? In life people are allowed a choice, those choices often come with consequences. If folks were not willing to accept them, they wouldn’t have made them in the first place. Second your not going to win people over by being “vaxholes” to them. Third at some point the reality is will set in that no matter what you, require, mandate, etc people will not change their minds. The government no matter how much you want to believe they will. Is not going to go door to door and physically force folks, they know it would end bad. What they will do is continue to try and make life hard for those that won’t get vaccinated. But for some even that won’t convince them. So the TLDR of it is eventually you’re gonna have to build a bridge and get over it. Also Barney do think there will come a point where you ultimately remove the ability to comment on the website? I know a lot of major stations have and am just curious if you think ktvz will ever reach that point?

    1. It feels like I have to put the explanation on speed dial – because no vaccine is 100% effective and the large number of hospitalizations of those not fully vaccinated have delayed by many months 1,000s of needed procedures.
      There are other reasons, of course, why what one person does or doesn’t do affect others. And why many, hopefully most people care about each other. It’s called community.
      As for whether the comment system will go, as I’ve said many times over the years, maybe – especially if folks abuse it and cannot avoid personal attacks, offensive comments, link wars the moderator has no time to fact-check for hours on end and other factors. If people could share opinions without slams, provide reputable links for their claims, etc… maybe we will move to a more reddit-like system where the community up-down votes as moderation, high-value stuff moves up, trolls etc. are nearly invisible in negative-digit territory.

      1. Why do you feel the need to be rude I don’t get it.. If you have vaccine you are protected from severe symptoms and hospitalization, and of course no vaccine is 100% effective. It’s not about “community” it’s about guilt tripping others into decisions that are not yours or others to make. Fact the vaccine according to scientific evidence is effective at protecting vaccinated individuals. By saying that others personal choices take away from that protection, you are inadvertently denying peer reviewed science. Take it down a notch good grief. No one is attacking you or anyone else.

  12. HEY BARNEY, you never answered my question. What is the percentage of people that have died from Covid without any underlying health issues? Please look this up and let us know.

    1. Feel free to email the newsroom with your requests. I’m not a research librarian for the commenters and can’t spend all day Googling what you can google.
      Or was it a rhetorical question or me helping you build ammunition?
      Of course it’s small, no one has denied that.
      But to take the ridiculous leap to “they would have died anyway” – that’s offensive and worded badly will be a deleted comment.

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