OAHHS Hospital Voice Fall/Winter 2021-22

» A magazine for and about Oregon Community Hospitals. 8 In late August, the intensive care units in the three hospitals of the Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Ashland, Medford, and Grants Pass were all filled with COVID-19 patients. Adventist had a daily average of 30 or more COVID patients, a significant percentage of its overall daily average of 100 patients. And because most of those COVID patients were unvaccinated, they were in bad shape. “What we saw so much more this round than before was a really high critical care COVID census,” Erdman said. “At some point, our entire medical ICU was COVID patients, and the patients we were seeing were even sicker.” The extra COVID load was heavy on hospitals. Staffing levels, already stretched thin before the pandemic, became even more worrisome. Many hospitals saw early retirements or staff who simply burned out and left the field. Most have had to bring in contract nurses from outside of Oregon, known as travelers, to fill gaps that have only widened during COVID-19. And because demand for travelers is so high, costs are too. Sims said rates for traveler nurses have risen dramatically, and other hospitals report similar increases. Higher labor costs have put pressure on hospital finances at a time when revenues have stayed flat, according to data from Apprise Health Insights. “It’s just not sustainable using this type of expensive labor,” said Leslie Ogden, chief executive officer at Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital and Pacific Communities Hospital on the Oregon Coast. Those two hospitals were spared the brunt of the surge, something Ogden attributed to a high vaccination rate in the area and what continues 