'Cautiously optimistic': Local hospital shares plans for possible surge

Health experts share that they’re ready and prepared for anything, especially as an unexpected winter is close by. However, flu season could bring an even greater challenge.

Posted: Oct 27, 2020 6:52 PM

LANE COUNTY, Ore. -- With the holidays around the corner, many are wondering how local hospitals are preparing for a possible sudden surge of patients amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Health experts share that they’re ready and prepared for anything, especially as an unexpected winter is close by. However, flu season could bring an even greater challenge.

Dr. Jim McGovern is PeaceHealth’s VP of Medical Affairs and COVID Incident Commander.

“We're actually better than we have been,” McGovern said. “I think we've kind of gone through a small surge here in Lane County, and we're cautiously optimistic that we're headed to the other side of it.”

On Friday, the Oregon Health Authority warned that hospital beds in Oregon could reach capacity by mid-December if action in slowing the spread is not taken.

McGovern said that their planning began early on, and the hospital has the ability to expand their Medical/Surgical unit from three patients to 36, as well as other units when needed.

"(Intensive Care Unity) is a little bit more difficult with more limited beds,” McGovern said. “The highest we've had there is eight. We have the ability to go to sort of a full ICU unit of 12.”

He said the hospital is considering a variety of options from analyzing who needs to be in the hospital, how they can use Univeristy District Hospital if needed and ways to allow people to recover at a quicker rate.

“When flu season comes, we're bursting at the seams,” McGovern said. “The leaders here are pretty creative at putting patients in different areas.”

This could include opening up the Mother & Baby Unit when that is not being utilized. They’ve also recently opened up an observation unit that added even more beds.

Lane County Public Health reports that 12 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

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