News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

St. Charles reaches crisis point

In an email Saturday to staff, volunteers and community leaders, St. Charles Health System CEO, Joe Sluka, told of dire conditions in his hospitals.

“Our hospitals are full, thanks to a surge of COVID-19 patients and an influx of people who are sick because their care has been delayed for a variety of reasons over the past year. At the same time, history tells us to expect a significant spike in trauma patients during holiday weekends,” Sluka said.

St. Charles has been forced to cancel surgeries and forced to transfer some patients to other hospitals. They have had to expand patient care into spaces normally used for other things. An urgent call has been put out to emergency room nurses and a plea to the State for help.

Sluka worries that if someone comes in with a severe injury or suffering from a heart attack, they may not have space to admit them to the hospital.

“All our beds are full. We are treating patients on gurneys in the hallways. Today, we have 15 people in the Emergency Department who are waiting for a bed to open up,” he reports with a hint of desperation.

Debbie Robinson, Chief Nursing Officer at the Bend unit who has worked there 26 years said: “This is the busiest we’ve ever been.” She and Sluka are begging for those who have not been vaccinated to do so.

Friday was the last day of the Deschutes County Fairgrounds mass vaccination center operations. Just over 1,200 doses were administered bringing the total doses given at the Fairgrounds to 119,808. Vaccinations are now widely attainable at pharmacies, care clinics and many private physicians. Wait times are essentially non-existent and in some cases, no appointment is needed.

Sluka pleads: “If you haven't yet received the COVID-19 vaccine, you should continue to wear a mask and practice physical distancing, no matter what federal or state regulatory agencies have said. They are reacting to what's happening elsewhere. Here in Central Oregon, the pandemic is not over. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly and it's making younger people very sick. If you are unvaccinated, it is important for your health and safety that you distance and wear a mask.”

Sisters typically has a large influx of weekend visitors and is a destination for Memorial Day holiday travelers enticed by usually good weather and an offering of events. Friday saw the resumption of 4th Friday Artwalk. Sunday witnessed 500 riders registered for the Sisters Stampede mountain biking event on Peterson Ridge.

Added to the recent changes by Oregon Health Authority mask mandates where vaccinated citizens can largely be mask free it is worrisome to Sluka and his team that people will let their guard down when just the opposite is demanded in Deschutes County.

 

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