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Bend ICU sees COVID improvement, braces for possible surge after holiday weekend

Since March 1, St. Charles Medical Center has had about 500 COVID patients in the ER. It said 98% were not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated.

BEND, Ore. — After a record month of COVID-19 hospitalizations, a central Oregon hospital system says it's seeing an improvement.

St. Charles Medical Center staff in Bend said they recently experienced the highest COVID numbers since the beginning of the pandemic.

"I don't believe anybody saw us being in this position over a year a later," said Debbie Robinson, chief nursing officer at St. Charles.

As of Thursday, heading into Memorial Day weekend, the hospital reported it was at capacity. All 24 beds were full in the ICU, including five patients with the virus. Three of the infected patients were on ventilators.

That meant the hospital had to delay other operations.

"We didn't do any elective surgeries or procedures this weekend," Robinson explained.

"Including people who have cancer and their getting delayed in their treatments," emergency room physician Nathan Ansbaugh told KTVZ last week.

RELATED: 'It takes an emotional toll': Bend hospital at capacity with COVID-19, trauma patients

The hospital braced for an influx of other trauma cases and emergencies during the holiday weekend. Robinson said luckily that didn't happen on Saturday or Sunday.

As of Monday morning, she said the St. Charles system had seven available ICU beds and 25 open beds in the acute care unit.

She worried, however, after a weekend of travel and gatherings, the hospital may see another spike in severe COVID cases.

Since March 1, St. Charles has had about 500 COVID patients in the ER. It said 98% were not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated.

"Staff are physically and emotionally tired," Robinson said. "We are not out of the woods with the pandemic...So we really want people to continue those things we've heard for months: social distancing, wash your hands, wear your mask, get vaccinated."

RELATED: National Guard asked to help with 'dire' staffing shortage at Oregon State Hospital