St. Charles will soon get an additional staffing boost of nurses, respiratory therapists and other health professionals to help respond to the surge of COVID patients caused by the delta variant.
Gov. Kate Brown announced Wednesday the state has finalized a contract with medical staffing company Jogan Health Solutions to deploy hospital crisis teams—a total of up to 500 health care personnel—to Central and Southern Oregon, as well as long-term care facilities statewide.
Separately, the state has also contracted with AMN Healthcare for at least 60 additional nurse and clinical positions.
Specific positions are still being determined, as are the locations for their deployment.
St. Charles officials say they submitted to the state its request for nearly 200 nurses, respiratory therapists and certified nursing assistants.
Specifically, the health system asked for:
- 58 acute care nurses
- 76 critical care nurses
- 9 Emergency Department nurses
- 5 respiratory therapists
- 46 certified nursing assistants
The health system isn’t sure if it will get the full number requested or how long the workers will stay.
“We’re relieved to hear we are likely getting staffing reinforcements at the bedside, especially on a day when our number of hospitalized COVID patients has reached a concerning new high of 72,” said Dr. Jeff Absalon, St. Charles’ chief physician executive. “Our system only has as much elasticity as it does staff. Getting these much-needed nurses and respiratory therapists will allow us to advance our surge plans.”
The addition of clinical staff at St. Charles’ hospitals will not immediately change the support role of the Oregon National Guard, which is committed through Sept. 30. Some 127 troops are continuing to run supplies, deliver food, perform COVID screening at hospital entrances and fit test for N-95 masks, among other tasks.
“Receiving help from the Oregon National Guard—and now these traveling health care workers—is of course very appreciated,” Absalon said. “But our pressing need for these resources should speak to the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves in right now. Only when the number of COVID cases in our community begins to decline will the pressure on our health system ease. We’re urgently asking our community to help by wearing masks and getting vaccinated.”
The additional personnel will bolster medical staff capacity to help manage hospitalizations that have jumped more than 990% since July 9.
“The deployment of crisis response teams should provide some welcome relief to our hospitals, particularly in Central and Southern Oregon, that are overwhelmed given the recent surge in hospitalizations among mostly unvaccinated individuals,” Brown said. “The hospital crisis we are facing isn’t just about beds––it’s about having enough trained health care professionals to treat patients. I am so pleased that we will be able to provide these resources to help our hospitals and long-term care facilities meet increased demand and can continue to provide vital health care to Oregonians.”
Under the state’s contract with Jogan Health Solutions, hospital crisis response teams will head to central Oregon to support the St. Charles Health System in Bend and Redmond areas, and to Southern Oregon to support Asante hospitals in Medford, Ashland, and Grants Pass, as well as Providence-Medford Medical Center and Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg.
St. Charles on Wednesday reported a record 72 COVID patients; 14 are in the ICU and on ventilators.
Statewide, the delta variant is pushing COVID cases and hospitalizations to record levels.
On Tuesday the state reported 1,000 COVID patients.
The hospital crisis response teams will be supported by up to 300 registered nurses in medical-surgical, emergency departments, and critical care; 20 paramedics; 61 certified nursing assistants; 34 respiratory therapists; and 5 medical technicians.
These teams will also be ready to move to other hospitals if needed.
“This is a much-needed infusion of qualified medical personnel that can help us get through this critical time in the COVID-19 pandemic,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen. “These crisis teams will be completely re-deployable. We will be working with the Regional Resource Hospitals and Incident Management Team to move hospital crisis teams to other hospitals and long-term care crisis teams to other long-term care facilities, where the need is greatest.”
Long-term care crisis response teams—a total of 10—will each be made up of three registered nurses and five certified nursing assistants and will be sent to facilities around the state to build capacity so patients can be discharged.
The Oregon National Guard has also been deployed to local hospitals to serve in support capacities.