As St. Charles hospitalizations jump, officials warn of low testing supplies

With six current COVID patients and three on ventilators in ICU, the Chief Medical Officer for St. Charles Health System sounded the alarm Wednesday about testing supplies.

“We are running short on our in-house testing supplies in order to be able to test patients that present with symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19,” said Dr. Jeff Absalon.

Absalon said as of Wednesday morning, St. Charles was down to supplies for only 68 rapid tests for COVID-19.

Rapid tests can deliver results in about 45 minutes.

Absalon said they do expect more supplies but at the current rate, the demand for tests is outstripping the supply.

Other tests used by St. Charles include batch testing, results typically taking between four and 12 hours depending on how long it takes to have enough patients for a complete batch.

Those tests are also running low.

Both types of tests are completed at St Charles and are reserved for patients admitted to the hospital.

“What’s happening is not just a result of increased testing,” said Absolon of the increasing number of COVID-19 infections in Central Oregon.

He points to hospitalizations as a key metric for determining how fast the virus is spreading.

“We have absolutely seen the hospitalization numbers go up recently,” he said.

In early July, Saint Charles started posting daily the number of COVID-19 patients in its hospitals, how many are in the ICU and how many are on ventilators. The patient count hit 11 on July 3rd.

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