Respiratory virus cases continue to strain hospitals in Southern Oregon

MEDFORD, Ore. – Hospitals in Medford are continuing to see a surge in flu cases, more COVID-19 hospitalizations and people with RSV.

Asante, like many other hospitals around the state, are trying  to find ways to care for people when bed capacity is high.

“We are essentially almost running a medical floor outside our emergency department on top of trying to treat emergency room patients and traumas as well,” healthcare worker at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center said.

Hicks is also a member of the Oregon Nurses Association.

She said, some patients have had to wait hours in ambulances to be checked in and they’ve even had to house people on gurneys in the hallways.

She’s also raising concerns over staffing because she believes the hospital is currently understaffed and the influx of patients is making the situation worse.

However, Asante said conditions now are no different than during the pandemic and they aren’t the only ones dealing with this issue.

“What we’re facing right now is capacity and staffing challenges like any health system in Oregon and actually probably throughout the U.S.,” Asante spokesperson Lauren Van Sickle said.

In recent weeks, Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order, that gives hospitals the flexibility to make sure it has enough staff to meet the demand of patients. 

According to Asante. they requested 40 nurses for additional help.

However, they’ve only gotten 8.

Although that number will help, patients are still waiting hours for care.

Causing healthcare workers like Hicks, to miss breaks, lunches, work more shifts and feel overwhelmed.

“It’s just exhausting,” Hicks said. “There’s a delay in providing care to our patients because it’s just so overwhelming with the number of patients coming in and the lack of staffing that we have.”

Recently, Asante said some patients are going to the emergency room when they shouldn’t be causing long wait times.

They said anyone with a medical emergency should not hesitate to go to the ER, but for those who need a test for the flu or COVID-19, they have other options.

“If families and caregivers can take those tests or get those done at a different location rather than the emergency department, that would go a long way to kind of relieving some of the strain on our emergency departments and the wait times we’re experiencing,” Van Sickle said.

Asante said they’ve declared a crisis standards of care for staffing this past weekend.

Meaning, it allows the hospital to move resources around to better care for more patients.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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