St. Charles went into the holiday weekend with all four Central Oregon hospitals at capacity.
“All of our in-patient and critical care beds were full,” Debbie Robinson, chief nursing officer, said. “At the Bend campus specifically, we had 15 patients waiting for in-patients beds.”
Memorial Day weekend had the hospital planning for additional patients.
“There’s usually traumas that come in, motor vehicle accidents,” Robinson said. “A variety of things that present.”
To prepare, the health system borrowed extra ground transport from the Portland area and brought in 70 additional nurses from across the country over the last six weeks.
Robinson said every nurse must be licensed in the state of Oregon, but is not required to be vaccinated.
Patient placement has also been strategic.
“Every patient that comes into our Bend emergency department and needs an in-patient bed, we first ask ourselves, does it need to be in Bend?” Robinson said. “Or can they be served at one of our other hospitals?”
Luckily, St. Charles has not seen the holiday trauma volume they anticipated.
“We only did emergent, urgent surgeries over the weekend and we’ve had some discharges,” Robinson said. “So that means we do have capacity for acutely ill and critically ill patients.”
St. Charles Bend had about 40 COVID patients heading into the weekend — a number that has remained steady for weeks.
As of Monday morning, that number has dropped to 31.
It’s a slight improvement, but still a challenge to the hospital.
“We have seen a bit of a relief,” Robinson said. “But that’s 31 additional patients that are in our system that may not have been here if we weren’t still addressing the outcome of the pandemic.”
St. Charles will be in contact with the Oregon Health Authority on Tuesday to talk next steps, and will not likely need assistance from the National Guard.