Vaccination rates continue to rise steadily in Wasco, Sherman and Gilliam counties, but COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are also climbing as the surge in Delta variant COVID cases continues.
North Central Public Health District, One Community Health and Mid-Columbia Medical Center (MCMC) administered 202 doses the week ending Aug. 20. At least 26,169 doses have been administered overall in the three counties. Wasco County has vaccinated 68% of those 18 and older; Sherman County 59.3% and Gilliam County 46%.
But as of this morning, MCMC had no open ICU beds, and 26 percent of its patient beds were taken by COVID positive patients. It has had to turn away ambulances due to increased volume in its ER. And today, it re- instituted its policy of not allowing visitors due to the surge. See the policy here.
It reflects what is going on statewide. Today, Oregon has a record1,097 people hospitalized with COVID and a record 3,207 positive and presumptive cases.
“Every day we are seeing more and more COVID-related admits,” said Stephanie Bowen, public relations manager for MCMC. It recently had a record high 9 COVID patients hospitalized. Now it has 7.
Bed and staffing shortages continue to be a grave concern across the state, she said. Oregon has the fewest number of available hospital beds per capita in the U.S., and the Gorge area has the least amount of beds within the state.
The Gorge falls into Region 6, which includes two hospitals, Providence Hood River Memorial and MCMC, and covers four counties: Wasco, Hood River, Sherman and Gilliam.
Given the national nursing shortage, “like hospitals everywhere, we are hurting,” she said. Many hospitals are canceling surgeries, even critical procedures, in order to keep beds available.
“Thankfully, through careful coordination and planning, MCMC has been able to continue to perform critical procedures. However this may change immediately, even for emergent procedures, should this wave continue,” she said.
“We have had to turn away patient transfers from other facilities due to our staffing shortages and decreased ability to transfer higher acuity patients,” she said.
The risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 is greatly reduced in vaccinated individuals. A report just released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that, in Los Angeles, unvaccinated people were 29 times as likely to be hospitalized as unvaccinated people.
“Keep yourself safe and help keep beds open for those in need by getting vaccinated,” Bowen said. Vaccines are available at MCMC’s primary care clinics as well as North Central Public Health District, One Community Health and on a walk-in basis at all local pharmacies.
To book a vaccine at NCPHD, call 541-506-2600. Wasco County residents get a $50 VISA card for their first dose. If you get the first dose at a pharmacy, they will put a sticker on your vaccine card, which can be brought to NCPHD at 419 E. 7th St. to receive the gift card.