Flu, RSV and COVID-19 cases crowd local emergency services | News
With the national increase in flu cases, PeaceHealth and University Health Services are struggling to keep up with the trifecta of COVID-19, RSV and flu.
The University of Oregon continues to try to provide its students with vaccine offers, free masks and rapid testing on campus. Peacehealth Sacred Heart Medical Center University District continues to serve students with emergency care when cases worsen.
PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center University District is the closest hospital to the University of Oregon and serves many students.
The hospital provided emergency services to those in the community struggling with COVID-19. But now, an influx in hospitalizations for flu and RSV has filled beds in the emergency department.
“Unfortunately, COVID has caused problems in nursing shortages and other problems in the hospital,” said PeaceHealth Medical Director Charlotte Ransom.
The nursing shortage is not only an issue in Eugene, but also of national concern. According to Nursing World, more than 500,000 RNs will retire in 2022, many of whom burned out due to earlier surges in the pandemic.
The hospital is still able to see all patients, but wait times have increased, with some patients waiting up to three hours to receive emergency care. She said she encourages students to try to limit their need for emergency services. One way students can do this is by drinking in moderation, she said.
A large proportion of the students seen in the emergency room had been drinking too much, she said. Drinking also reduces people’s ability to fight infection, Ransom said.
“It’s important to try to stay healthy so you don’t have to come to the emergency department. Making sure you get enough sleep, eat well, don’t stress your body too much, you’re more likely to get sick,” Ransom said.
University Health Services at UO is also grappling with the increase in flu cases, with students experiencing flu symptoms taking up about half of their appointments each day, according to Medical Director Anna Hejinian.
“As flu cases in the area began to increase last November and December, these acute care appointments were filled early each day with students exhibiting flu symptoms. Staff observed the same during periods when COVID cases increase,” Hejinian said.
When spikes in flu or COVID-19 cases occur at UO, UHS schedules additional staff and works more patients into its schedule, Hejinian said.
Her advice to avoid the surge in flu cases: wash hands, rest, eat nutritious food, exercise, wear a mask and get vaccinated.
UO students and staff can schedule vaccinations for both the flu and COVID-19 through the myUOHealth portal.