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Field hospital, workers could come to Jackson County

More COVID-19 patients are arriving daily at Rogue Valley hospitals that are already overflowing with patients. Jamie Lusch/Mail Tribune
State helping with COVID-19 surge in Jackson, Josephine counties

The state is prioritizing Jackson and Josephine counties for help as the Rogue Valley faces a COVID-19 surge that has filled local hospitals to overflowing, county officials said.

Jackson County Administrator Danny Jordan said that is the message he got after a phone briefing Tuesday with Akiko Saito, deputy director for the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Unit, a joint division between the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Human Services.

Acting on behalf of Jackson County, Josephine County and local hospitals, Jackson County is requesting a field hospital, health care workers, ventilators and other equipment. The county is also asking for help for hospital patients who are ready to be discharged, but need follow-up care and can’t get into nursing homes.

On Tuesday, Akiko put in a formal request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to have four field hospitals set up in Oregon. If FEMA fulfills the request, Jackson and Josephine counties are being prioritized to have a field hospital, according to a written summary of the briefing provided by Jordan.

The field hospital would likely be in Jackson County.

OHA is using a health care staffing company to get out-of-state medical professionals to assist with local staffing needs, the summary said.

Local hospitals need a variety of staff, including critical care nurses, certified nursing assistants and people to help with COVID-19 testing, Jordan said in a phone interview with the Mail Tribune late Tuesday night.

OHA is working with a company to provide more staffing for Hearthstone Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Medford, according to the briefing summary.

The state has a contract for the nursing center to care for 45 discharged hospital patients, but so far only about 30 patients are receiving care there because of limited staffing, according to OHA.

At least 60 patients who have nowhere to go after discharge are taking up local hospital beds, Asante said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, at least 65 people need to be admitted into hospital beds, but they’re being cared for in operating rooms, emergency departments and other spaces not meant for patient care, according to Asante.

Asante has canceled surgeries except in cases where the person could die in days without surgery, and is denying regional transfers from outlying, rural hospitals in Southern Oregon and Northern California.

People who need heart surgery, cancer surgery and other procedures are having their operations postponed if they aren’t facing imminent death.

According to the briefing summary, the state is providing more funds for Rogue Valley Workforce to assist with training certified nursing assistants. The CNAs can be used to care for people who need to be discharged from hospitals into a nursing home setting.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.