On Thursday, Sky Lakes Medical Center reported its highest number of COVID patients since the beginning of the pandemic.

The hospital continues to operate under “surge” status to deal with increased patients. On Wednesday, 48 temporary, trained healthcare staff sponsored by the state and federal governments arrived at the hospital. In addition, 23 members of the 173rd Fighter Wing unit will move from their Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base station up the hill to the hospital to help on Friday.

”Oregon hospitals are at maximum capacity and our communities have asked for help from the National Guard,” Micah Lambert 173rd Fighter Wing vice commander said. “Our activation can provide assistance that increases capacity and patient care. While the tasks we are being asked to perform are not direct patient care, this support will free up medical professionals and provide additional beds. That could be lifesaving.”

Last month, as the surge threatened to overwhelm parts of Southern Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown activated up to 1,500 Oregon National Guard members to assist hospitals dealing with COVID-surges and staff shortages. The 173rd Fighter Wing has now activated 155 people to assist hospitals throughout Oregon with everything from custodial services, laundry, COVID testing support, equipment support, material handling and other activities.

In Klamath Falls, Sky Lakes Medical Center remains strained by high patient loads.

“(Thursday) we have 27 COVID-19 inpatients which (is) the largest number of COVID patients we’ve had since the beginning of the pandemic,” Sky Lakes tweeted Thursday. “We continue to operate at surge status.”

According to a Wednesday release from Sky Lakes, the COVID patient load accounts for about a fourth of the hospital’s total patient census. Three of the 27 patients are vaccinated, and three are receiving intensive care. One patient receiving intensive care is vaccinated.

Tom Hottman, public information officer at Sky Lakes, said he wouldn’t call the current situation a spike, but the overall numbers are steadily increasing.

For the past few days the COVID-19 patient load at Sky Lakes has fluctuated, but has remained in the upper teens and lower 20s. But the COVID patient load increased on Thursday. And according to Hottman, Sky Lakes’ COVID modeling does not show things getting better in the short term.

“All the models suggest it’s going to go up and it’s not going to go away soon,” Hottman said.

Modeling predicts COVID-19 inpatient numbers could double by later this month and into October.