Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Salem library returns to curbside service in main library

about 2 months ago

Understaffed state hospital to get second round of National Guard help

(Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The National Guard is again being deployed to Oregon State Hospital to help care for patients as staffing shortages have persisted.

The deployment of about 25 guard members will be part of the larger effort to aid short-staffed hospitals around the state, said Maj. W. Chris Clyne, spokesman for the Oregon Military Department.

In an email to state hospital employees Friday afternoon, state hospital Superintendent Dolly Matteucci said the deployment would include about nine guard members who were previously sent to the hospital in June and finished their assignment July 31. Those members could be working the hospital floor by Sept. 9.

About 15 other guard members would require training before they’ll be tasked with serving meals, escorting patients and other non-medical tasks.

“Like other hospitals throughout the country, we are facing an acute staffing crisis. Mandates have increased dramatically since July,” Matteucci said in the staff email, referring to the hospital’s practice of mandating employees work overtime shifts when available employees aren’t sufficient to cover legally required staffing ratios. 

The hospital mandated employee overtime 507 times in August, compared with just 28 in July, said Jonathan Modie, a spokesman for the Oregon Health Authority, which operates the hospital.

“I’m very grateful to the National Guard for coming to our aid during this challenging time. Our patients deserve the best possible care, and the assistance of the Guard will help,” Matteucci wrote.

The hospital cares for about 500 of the state’s most severely mentally ill residents and has struggled to maintain minimum staffing levels for much of the year. Hospital administrators previously said shortages were largely because of employees taking leave under the state’s Covid policy, which allowed employees to reduce work hours or stay home to care for children whose schools or daycares had closed.

"Unfortunately, Oregon State Hospital is suffering from the same nursing shortage that is affecting the health care industry as a whole during this phase of the pandemic. At the same time, our unit staffing needs have increased over time due to acuity and population changes. The combination of fewer available direct-care employees and a higher need has resulted in staffing challenges," Modie said in an email when asked about the cause of the shortage.

Matteucci said in the email the hospital is taking other steps to address staffing shortages, including having managers and administrators sign up for weekend shifts and developing a new emergency staffing plan.

The guard’s previous work at the hospital was a state deployment, requiring the hospital to sign a $1.2 million contract to cover costs to the military department.

Clyne said this deployment is federally funded, as are other guard deployments to Oregon hospitals.

He said the state hospital deployment, like other Oregon hospitals, is scheduled through Sept. 30 but will be reevaluated and potentially extended based on need.

-Rachel Alexander

about 2 months ago

Data digest: Covid by the numbers for Sept. 3, 2021

A health care worker wheels out a gurney in the emergency room at Salem Hospital on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

With Covid cases and hospitalizations climbing in Oregon, Salem Reporter is keeping you informed of the latest numbers. Here’s our report for Friday, Sept. 3. 

New Covid cases reported in Marion County: 249

New Covid cases reported in Polk County: 41

Total Salem Hospital patients with Covid: 102 as of Friday morning, an increase of nine from Thursday. Of those, 21 are in the intensive care unit, and 15 are on ventilators. Salem Health didn’t have the number of patients who are unvaccinated available Friday. 

Total Salem Hospital bed occupancy: 471 of 494 licensed beds in use

OHA hadn't published updated hospitalization data by region by 4 p.m. Friday.

New Covid deaths reported: 24 in Oregon. 

The Oregon Health Authority reported deaths from Thursday included one Marion County resident, a 69-year-old man who tested positive on Aug. 14 and died on Aug. 31 with underlying conditions. 

OHA had not published counties of residents and demographic information for Friday’s deaths by 4 p.m. 

New Covid vaccines in Oregon: 4,291 new Covid vaccine doses administered on Sept. 2, including at least 2,698 first doses. 

Source: Oregon Health Authority, Salem Health

-Saphara Harrell

about 2 months ago

Salem library returns to curbside service at main branch

The large print and holds section, now located near the main entrance at the Salem Public Library on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The Salem Public Library is returning to curbside service on Wednesday, Sept. 8 after the city announced the library wouldn’t be opening this week as planned due to rising Covid cases.

Sign ups are open online.

Curbside service runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

To pick up a book, patrons must place a hold on the items they want on the CCRLS website, schedule a pickup time and pick up their items at the time of their appointment in the Loucks Auditorium, to the right of the front entrance of the main library at 585 Liberty St. S.E. 

-Saphara Harrell

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