‘It’s slowly stopping’: health and ambulance services face a capacity crisis | New

PORTLAND, Ore. — Health officials warn that capacity issues at Oregon hospitals continue to worsen, as hospitals grapple with understaffing and other challenges even long after the waves previous patients caused by COVID-19.

“The [healthcare] the system is really suffering from dramatic aftershocks from the pandemic,” said Becky Hultberg, president of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. “He’s just backed up right now, he’s slowly shutting down.”

On Friday, Hultberg said 506 patients were essentially “stuck” in hospital beds in Oregon, waiting for space to free up in aftercare facilities.

“That’s one of the things that’s creating this capacity crisis,” Hultberg said. “We have people boarding emergency departments, people waiting for transfers, waiting for a higher level of care and that bed is not available for them.”

In the Portland metro area, 21 intensive care beds (6%) were available on Friday, along with 50 non-ICU beds (3%).

Ambulance services are also feeling the impact. American Medical Response told KGW that its first responders are facing longer wait times for patient transfers. In a statement, an AMR spokesperson said:

“Paramedics continue to provide high quality care to patients, either in the ambulance or in the reception areas of the emergency department. However, ambulances held in local emergency rooms with patients cannot respond to other 911 calls. We urge the public to use hospitals and the 911 system only when it is a genuine emergency or when directed by their healthcare provider. »

Some fire departments also provide ambulance transport services, including Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.

“There have been times over the past year when hospitals in the Portland metro area have been unable to accept patients in emergency departments,” said Cassandra Ulven, chief of Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Public Affairs. “So TVF&R had to fly patients as far south as Eugene.”

Hultberg said they are working with the Oregon Heath Authority and the governor’s office on short-term solutions to help free up hospital capacity. Hultberg noted that early in the pandemic, the state provided incentive payments to adult foster homes to take in patients, and many hospitals formed “decompression units” — nursing homes. nurses hired to pick up patients ready to be discharged.

“It’s all on the table because we recognize that right now is actually a slow time for hospitals,” Hultberg said. “We need to address the capacity issue before we get to the fall, when we typically see higher numbers due to seasonal flu.”

Richard F. Gandhi