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OHSU prepared for possible transfer of coronavirus patients from Idaho


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PORTLAND, Oregon (KATU) — Health officials say patients with coronavirus may be sent from Northern Idaho to Portland because the region’s hospitals are nearing capacity.

KATU spoke with Dr. Matthias Merkel, the senior associate chief medical officer at OHSU Health. He says OHSU is essentially full, with up to 90% of beds already occupied, but capacity numbers change all the time.

“At every time of the day patients discharge, new patients get admitted,” Dr. Merkel said.

An OHSU media spokesperson tells KATU the hospital has not gotten a request to take in patients from Idaho, but they are aware of the situation and are prepared to help.

“We would absolutely take patients who need our care,” said Dr. Merkel. “OHSU serves the entire Pacific Northwest and we are used to kind of taking in patients even from far distances away. That’s a normal process for us.”

However, Dr. Merkel says the forecast worries him. The cold weather and flu season will bring more people indoors and closer together, possibly causing the number of cases to rise.

Dr. Merkel is urging everyone to wear masks, social distance and take precautions.

“All of these collectively has helped us to avoid our health system from being overrun and we need to continue to do everything each of us can to avoid overrunning our health systems,” Dr. Merkel said.

Spokespeople from Kaiser Permanente and Legacy Emmanuel tell KATU they have not gotten requests to take in patients from Idaho.

We are still waiting to hear back from Providence.