▶️ St. Charles expecting record-breaking COVID metrics despite state trends

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St. Charles has 88 COVID-19 patients as of Tuesday morning, 15 of whom are in the intensive care unit.

Although that number is down from Monday’s 97 patients, health system officials are concerned.

“You can’t walk into our hospital and see it as anything other than a crisis,” Dr. Doug Merrill, St. Charles chief medical officer said.

Oregon has recently seen a slight decline in COVID cases and hospitalizations, but Merrill says he is not convinced the state’s improvement is going to sustain.

St. Charles senior data scientist Dr. Mike Johnson is also not optimistic.

“We have an incredibly busy revolving door right now of COVID patients,” Johnson said. “Yesterday, for example, we discharged 16 patients, but they were immediately replaced by 16 other patients. So the numbers stay about the same.”

Johnson expects September to be filled with new, COVID-related record numbers including patient days, mortalities, emergency department visits, and pediatric visits.

St. Charles has already seen five pediatric cases in September, which Johnson says is a “tremendous” increase for children.

“Almost any bad metric that you can think of,” Johnson said. “We are going to break that record again this month.”

Merrill says local behaviors are not helping COVID hospitalizations at St. Charles, especially with the delta variant present.

“What we’re seeing are folks not masking, not socially distancing, going to ball games,” Merrill said. “As if somehow things are done.”

These behaviors prove even more dangerous for the unvaccinated.

“Huge majority of our hospital patients are unvaccinated,” Merrill said. “But we are seeing vaccinated patients in our hospital and that is directly related to their neighbors and friends not getting vaccinated.”

Of the hospital’s 88 COVID patients Tuesday morning, 72 are not fully vaccinated.

St. Charles is also approaching a backlog of 4,000 patients waiting for elective turned scheduled surgeries.

“We have capped our ability to do in-patient surgery at about five folks a day,” Merrill said.

Things are not looking promising and a drop in COVID patients is now up to the public.

“There really is only one thing that’s going to curve this,” Merrill said. “And that is our local behavior.”

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