▶️ St. Charles pleads with community to be safe this weekend; ‘We are full’

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With Deschutes County in the low-risk category and with widespread vaccination availability, some might say the pandemic is over.

But for St. Charles ICU nurse Emily Kroytz, COVID-19 is still an everyday reality.

“I went home last night and was in tears with my husband,” Kroytz said. “It’s just heavy. All of us are heavy.”

The pandemic is far from over for the 41 hospitalized COVID patients at St. Charles on Thursday, five of whom are in the ICU.

And it’s not over for the nurses and doctors, who suit up in PPE each day to turn COVID patients over every few hours to help them breathe.

“Today we started out with every acute care and critical care bed full in the Bend hospital,” Debbie Robinson, chief nursing officer at St. Charles Bend, said. “We had 15 patients in our emergency department waiting for an in-patient bed. We are full.”

“Full” because of a spike in COVID patients, but also because of the rush of patients who arrived at the hospital recently after delaying treatment for the past year, according to Robinson.

“Our community put off care for months and months,” Robinson said.

Officials are concerned about hospital capacity because Memorial Day weekend is historically the busiest time of year for the emergency room, which usually receives a flood of patients from recreational accidents and from a general spike in tourism.

“Our hospital is usually extremely full on normal Memorial Day weekends,” Doug Merrill, chief medical officer at St. Charles, said. “We’re already full. If you have an urgent disease issue, come in. We’ll do what we have to do to take care of you. But if you can control it, if you don’t have to take an extra motor vehicle trip, if you don’t have to go out on an ATV, if you don’t have to take extra risks this weekend, please don’t.”

Just on Thursday, two critical care patients were flown to a Boise hospital and several other patients waited in beds in ER hallways, because most of the rooms were full.

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