If a person gets in a car accident or has a heart attack in Central Oregon, they may not get the kind of care they usually would. That is what scares Dr. Jeff Absalon of St. Charles Health Systems the most.
St. Charles is overwhelmed by COVID patients.
“I can’t overstate this,” Absalon said Thursday during a news conference with Gov. Kate Brown. “What we are going through right now is unimaginable. …We are overwhelmed.”
As of Thursday morning, St. Charles had 62 COVID-19 patients, the most it had at any time during the pandemic, said Absalon, the chief physician executive for St. Charles. And the surge driven by the more contagious delta variant is not over.
We should all really take a moment to reflect on what Absalon said.
His words should be a warning and a guide.
The hospital has roughly 200 open positions for nurses. And that is as demand for care has risen and the level of care required is more acute.
“Just a few days ago I had the honor of stepping into our intensive care unit in Bend,” Absalon said. “Unfortunately it was just a few minutes after we lost a young COVID-19 patient. … Our nurses had tears in their eyes. And yet they had to get right back to work to care for patients that needed their services. And that’s what they did. And that’s what they do.”
“We have also had family members that have had to say goodbye to patients through a glass door or through an iPad.”
“We have also had patients come into our hospitals who don’t believe in COVID-19. … They are diagnosed with the disease, but don’t believe in it.”
“And then there are those who didn’t believe in COVID-19 or didn’t believe in vaccinations until they were in our care gasping. … And became believers and encouraged their family members to get vaccinated and to take measures to prevent the spread of this disease.”
“That’s what’s happening in our hospitals and health system.”
There is a clear path out of this.
Get vaccinated, if you are not. It will help protect you and those you love. It will give the virus less chance to mutate further into new more contagious and virulent variants.
Be extra careful with masking and social distancing.
And when you are out and about exercising, working or working around the house, remember, if you get injured, St. Charles may not be able to give you the kind of care it would normally.