Oregon hospital only taking emergencies amid long-term care, nursing shortages

St. Charles Bend (Ore.) Hospital will operate only as an emergency facility through Aug. 4 because of delayed discharges and a shortage of long-term care in the region, local news station KTVZ reports. 

All elective surgeries and procedures that require an overnight stay will be delayed through at least Aug. 4. Lisa Goodman, a spokesperson for St. Charles Health System, clarified that a rise in COVID-19 patients is not the main factor behind the care limits. 

"This situation is due to a lack of capacity for long-term care in our community, which leaves us unable to discharge patients in a timely fashion," she told the news station. "For now, we must function as an 'emergency' hospital and care for our most seriously ill and injured patients, many of whom have had to board in our ED due to lack of beds." 

Fifteen COVID-19 patients were being treated at St. Charles Bend as of early July 27. 

"We are seeing a rise in COVID-19 patients, but our overall patient census has been high for many, many weeks now," Ms. Goodman said. 

Instead, the main challenge for the hospital has been an influx in sick and injured patients, with the lack of long-term care facility beds in the community delaying discharge for many. 

"Compounding this problem is a severe nationwide nursing shortage that is making it difficult for hospitals like ours to keep pace with the consistently high demand for care," Ms. Goodman said. 

The hospital has about 300 vacant nursing positions and is offering $10,000 sign-on bonuses for newly hired nurses. 

St. Charles Health System has been navigating capacity issues related to high patient volumes and an elective surgery backlog since spring.

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