(Update: Wednesday patient count sets record)
County commissioner pitches vaccination incentives; hospital begins doubling up some patients
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- St. Charles Bend reported a record 89 COVID-19 patients as of early Wednesday, a dozen of whom were in the ICU, 10 on ventilators.
Of the 89 patients, 74 were not fully vaccinated and 15 were, the hospital said. Of the 12 in the ICU, 10 were not fully vaccinated and two were.
As local officials continue to push people to get vaccinated, the new metric on St. Charles COVID-19 dashboard paints a less than rosy picture.
For the first time, the hospital is breaking down vaccinated vs. unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, including those in the ICU.
On Tuesday, the hospital reported a near-record 75 COVID-19 patients, 15, which is 20 percent, were fully vaccinated. A third of the nine patients in the ICU were fully vaccinated. One was under 60 years old.
Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang said it's actually a sign the vaccine is working, given the county's high rate of vaccinations.
"For under 30 percent of the people to represent 80 percent of the (cases) I think is a pretty good demonstration that vaccination provides substantial protection against COVID," Chang said.
A St. Charles spokesperson said while the fully vaccinated count was just added to the dashboard, that number fluctuates. She added that 91 percent of Covid patients since March 1st were unvaccinated.
Public Information Officer Lisa Goodman also confirmed to NewsChannel 21 that as part of the hospital's "surge plan," "we have doubled up beds in some areas, including three ICU rooms."
Multnomah County is now mandating its employees be vaccinated, but Chang said that likely won't happen in Deschutes County.
"I went back to the drawing board and came back with the idea that we could incentivize employees to get vaccinated," he said.
He added they could use American Rescue Plan Act dollars to create an incentive program for local businesses. It may save them money in the long run.
"Your basic COVID case in the hospital might cost $35-45,000." Chang said. It more than doubles to around $100,000 for an ICU stay.
Chang said the he hopes to bring the idea up at a commission meeting in the next few weeks.
He stressed that his idea is not for a mandate and would be completely voluntary, if enacted.
Bend City Councilor Megan Perkins told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday the city council has not discussed any similar mandate or incentive program for city employees.