COVID cases aren’t just skyrocketing in Central Oregon – hospitalizations are also climbing.
As of Monday, St. Charles Bend reported 30 COVID-19 patients, including eight in the intensive care unit.
“We are as full or more full now than we were in December when we saw our last peak of hospitalized COVID patients,” Dr. Jeff Absalon, chief physician executive said.
Until local case counts go back down, St. Charles health officials don’t anticipate a drop in their hospitalizations.
“You know everything looks good for a long time and people let off their guard just a little bit,” Dr. Mike Johnson, senior data scientist said. “As a result we see the cases rise.”
Absalon says younger patients are becoming more common.
“The average age of the patient hospitalized in the ICU with COVID-19 is 13 years younger in March and April than it was in January and February,” Absalon said.
Johnson says there have been several patients in their 20s, 30s, and 40s in the Bend hospital’s ICU.
“I’ve read several reports that the variants that are out there, the B117 and others,” Johnson said. “Have been shown to be more severe on the younger age groups.”
Absalon says this indicates the vaccine is working to protect our elderly community.
However, it does not help the current 92% capacity throughout the health system.
“We are very tight on beds,” Absalon said. “We are now planning and working very hard to move into additional surge space.”
St. Charles Bend will also be limiting elective surgeries that require a hospital bed this week.
“Some will be able to go forward and others may need to be canceled,” Absalon said. “Our team is working on exactly how many cases and which cases that will involve in the days to come.”
Absalon adds the pandemic, including the most recent spike, has not been easy on employees.
“I’ll be frank and open in saying that I do think that our people are stressed,” Absalon said. “This is difficult and if there is a shoulder season or a less busy time of year, this is traditionally that time of year.”
Absalon encourages everyone to continue taking the proper precautions so positive cases and hospitalizations go down.