Eighty-nine Douglas County residents are currently hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19, and four more residents died Wednesday and Thursday.
The Douglas County COVID-19 Recovery Team reported 144 new positive and presumptive cases of the coronavirus Thursday and 195 Friday. Of the 89 hospitalized, 81 reportedly have not been vaccinated.
CHI Mercy Medical Center, already at near capacity with its 16 available intensive care unit beds, has converted an additional 20 primary care beds to serve as part of the hospital’s ICU.
As of Friday, 11 patients were in the ICU, 10 patients were on ventilators, and 19 required the use of a bi-level positive airway pressure — or BiPap — machine. The recovery team said that as of Thursday, 63% of all patients at the hospital are receiving care for COVID-19 as the hospital is at 87% capacity.
Four more county residents have died this week, including a fully vaccinated 43-year-old man who tested positive for the coronavirus Aug. 8 and died Thursday. A 66-year-old man died Wednesday, and a 50-year-old man and 81-year-old man died Thursday. Neither of those three had been vaccinated.
The recovery team got a behind-the-scenes look inside the hospital and said that while most staff in the ICU and PCU — who normally work three 12-hour shifts per week — have been working five or six 12-hour shifts per week. While the ICU historically would have between six and nine patients at a time for one or two days of care, that number has skyrocketed to 30-35 patients requiring care for two weeks or longer.
“They normally don’t place ICU patients in the PCU wing, but the Mercy maintenance team have worked continuously to retrofit rooms with negative isolation units, breathing machines and glass windows in order to expand the wing to provide lifesaving care to more and more patients,” county spokesperson Tamara Howell wrote in Friday’s report. “They have definitely learned to be adaptable in an unimaginable situation.”
When Howell asked Critical Care Director Allison Williams what she would ask for if granted one wish, Williams replied, “Fifty critical care nurses to walk through that door.
“But, more than anything, I want people to know that COVID is real,” Williams added. “People are dying, our hospitals ARE really full, critical care beds are extremely hard to open up, and the current COVID survival rates in ICUs are not good.”
Vaccinations are available throughout Douglas County. To find the nearest place to begin or complete a vaccination sequence, contact the county’s COVID-19 hotline at 541-440-6550. Coastal residents can call the Lower Umpqua Hospital District’s COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center at 541-271-2175. The Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians is available at 541-672-9405. Aviva Health can be reached at 541-672-9596.