Sky Lakes Medical Center has seen patient loads 30% above its normal capacity for a number of weeks. And though the number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to inch higher, the hospital said it has the situation largely under control.
As of Tuesday, Sky Lakes had 23 COVID-positive patients in house, three of whom are vaccinated. One unvaccinated patient is receiving intensive care.
The medical center counted 20 positive cases at its testing site on Tuesday said Tom Hottman, public information officer for Sky Lakes.
With the infusion of 48 temporary clinical care staff sponsored by the state and federal government — including nurses, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, paramedics and 23 airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing unit stationed at Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base — the hospital has kept the current surge under control.
“They are still reporting for duty and they are doing a fantastic job,” Hottman said of the outside assistance. “We are still thrilled to have them.”
Hottman said he believes staff have a handle on the situation at this time, and Sky Lakes is not currently seeking any additional help. The overall census at the hospital as of Tuesday was in the low 80s, which has been consistent for the last several days, Hottman said.
Still, that number is higher than usual. Hottman said the hospital has had roughly 30% percent more patients than normal for a number of weeks.
Almost all nonessential elective procedures that require overnight stays have been postponed, Hottman said. As long as the COVID surge continues, that will remain the case in order to preserve much-needed resources.
Sky Lakes has also seen vaccination rates tick up slightly, but the hospital still hopes to see more people coming in for their shot.
“Looking at hospitalizations from elsewhere in the state, evidence suggests that a lot of the new patients are because of the delta variant,” Hottman said. “Which makes it especially important for people to get vaccinated. And vaccines are still free.”
Hottman added that data shows the vaccines are working well against the delta variant. Besides getting vaccinated, wearing masks in public and maintaining physical distance remain helpful tools to help get through the pandemic.
On Tuesday, the Oregon Health Authority reported 83 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 for Klamath County.