Nearly 1,500 Oregon National Guard members will be deployed to hospitals across the state to help frontline workers deal with a surge of hospitalizations from the rapid spread of the delta variant.
The Oregon Health Authority on Friday reported 733 COVID hospitalizations around the state – by far the most ever reported since the onset of the pandemic.
Gov. Kate Brown announced the move on Friday, saying the initial deployment would happen on Aug. 20th.
The first wave will provide logistical support as material handlers and equipment runners, the governor said. They will also help with COVID testing and other hospital operation services.
The Oregon National Guard is prepared to provide logistical support for more than 20 hospitals across the state.
“I cannot emphasize enough the seriousness of this crisis for all Oregonians, especially those needing emergency and intensive care,” Brown said. “When our hospitals are full with COVID-19 patients, there may not be room for someone needing care after a car crash, a heart attack, or other emergency situation.”
St. Charles on Friday reported it had 38 COVID patients; seven were in the ICU and five were on ventilators.
Hospital officials said earlier this week that it was operating at near capacity and staffing shortages were stretching thin a workforce already exhausted.
Late Friday the health system said it planned to meet with Guard leadership in anticipation of the arrival of 150 members on Aug. 20.
Space at the hospitals will be dedicated to the Guard to set up and run its operations.
As the majority of the 72 Guard members do not have medical certifications, they are expected to support the hospital in other critical nonclinical roles, officials said.
“The stress on Oregon hospitals right now is truly unprecedented. Our resources are stretched woefully thin at the same time we are seeing a frightening rise in COVID cases,” said Joe Sluka, president and CEO of St. Charles Health System. “We are grateful for the Guard’s help. We look forward to welcoming its members on our hospital campuses to help see our health system through this public health crisis as we continue to work every possible avenue to secure more clinical resources to care for our patients at the bedside.”
This is a developing story.