(Update: Adding information and video)
Hospital says high COVID patient count has delayed care for others
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- While Deschutes County entered the 'Lower Risk' COVID-19 category on Friday, due to rising vaccination numbers, St. Charles Bend continues to see dozens of COVID-19 patients needing hospitalization, several in the intensive care unit.
The hospital has seen so many patients in the last year needing ventilators that "proning" has become a common occurrence in the intensive care unit. Proning is flipping a patient from laying on their back to laying on their stomach for an extended period of time – 18 hours to be exact. It's done to increase airflow.
The hospital reported 41 COVID-19 patients as of early Thursday morning -- more than, for example, Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Five were in the ICU, three on ventilators.
"Since the pandemic started, people are having to get their surgeries bumped == including people who have cancer," Nathan Ansbaugh, an emergency room physician, said Thursday.
A spokeswoman for St. Charles Bend described their system being "under extreme stress".
The hospital will likely not be getting a break soon, as Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year for the emergency room, according to Ansbaugh.
"Right now, we don't have a place to put you," Ansbaugh said. "It affects everyone."
Ansbaugh told NewsChannel 21 that typically he used to only look to transfer one or two patients a month to other regional hospitals,. But recently, he said, nearly every patient is a candidate for transfer.
Since March 1, St. Charles has seen about 500 COVID-19 patients enter its emergency room -- and officials say 98% of them either were not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated.
St. Charles is asking residents and visitors who are unvaccinated to continue to mask up, or better yet, get the vaccine as soon as possible, saying it will make a difference.
It's not only the hospital urging residents to continue to do your part. Bend's Mayor, Sally Russell shares a similar sentiment.
"We need to continue wearing masks, social distancing and getting vaccinated," Russell told NewsChannel 21 on Thursday. "If something happened to someone in my family right now, I would have a much tougher time finding care in Central Oregon right now because COVID is driving that over-capacity."