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Providence bringing temporary morgues, surge tents to Portland-area hospitals

With COVID-19 cases surging and hospital capacity dwindling, Providence says that it is readying for the potentiality of overflowing hospitals in the Portland area.

Posted: Nov 20, 2020 11:46 AM
Updated: Nov 20, 2020 11:50 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. — With coronavirus cases surging and hospital capacity dwindling in Oregon, Providence says that it is readying for the potentiality of overflowing hospitals in the Portland area.

In a statement, Providence addressed changes that some people may notice immediately at two of its largest hospitals, Providence Portland Medical Center and Providence St. Vincent Medical Center — namely, the arrival of temporary morgues and surge tents.

"Providence has made many changes to our services these past months to plan for and care for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19," the medical provider said. "Though treatments have improved and more patients are surviving COVID-19, we need to extend our limited morgue capacity so that we can respectfully handle all patients who die."

Providence said that it will set up two large, temporary mortuary trailers in Portland in case they are needed. There will be chaplains on hand to bless the trailers when they arrive, and aid in ensuring that the dead are honored and respected.

The hospitals still plan to utilize existing morgues and partner funeral homes first, but are planning for the potential of a worst-case scenario in the event that the situation becomes as dire as it has in other areas of the country.

"This is another reason why it is so important for everyone to follow the known steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19: wear masks, maintain social distancing, limit or avoid social gatherings, stay home as much as possible and wash your hands," Providence said.


RELATED: Local hospitals are running out of beds


Surge tents are being set up outside of the emergency departments at Providence Portland and Providence St. Vincent, allowing additional space for those coming in to seek emergency care. They'll also be used to conduct assessments and socially distanced waiting space.

"When you say flatten the curve, what we’re really trying to say is, 'allow us to do our jobs,'" said Dr. Justin Jin, infectious disease physician at Providence Portland. "We realize people are going to get sick, but if you completely overrun the hospital system, you’re going to have more COVID deaths, and you’re also going to have more deaths from other causes."

Providence said that it is currently caring for 90 people in its Oregon hospitals with either confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus. As of the Oregon Health Authority's latest report, 414 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 are currently hospitalized at facilities across the state — 96 in ICU beds, and 37 on ventilators.

"This is serious . . . serious for every person in this hospital," said Jaclyn Center, R.N. and associate nurse manager for critical care services. "We're all working hard, the patients are sick . . . we all want to see our family and friends, but in the long run, wouldn't you rather see them for more years to come?"

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 175121

Reported Deaths: 2460
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah34937568
Washington23491229
Marion20195299
Clackamas15386204
Lane11591144
Jackson9923127
Umatilla796883
Deschutes712972
Linn416063
Yamhill410175
Klamath349059
Polk344252
Malheur342858
Josephine306362
Douglas304765
Benton273218
Jefferson207032
Coos197531
Columbia154526
Union141624
Lincoln130220
Wasco129128
Hood River112529
Morrow107915
Clatsop8958
Crook88019
Baker85814
Curry5959
Tillamook5813
Lake4137
Grant4124
Harney3066
Wallowa1575
Sherman570
Gilliam561
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3718210

Reported Deaths: 61038
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122899723653
Riverside2972154525
San Bernardino2947794555
San Diego2749603674
Orange2689624896
Santa Clara1170812013
Kern1078591322
Sacramento1011721646
Fresno1005621646
Alameda853671477
Ventura802301000
San Joaquin714311334
Contra Costa67019782
Stanislaus603831028
Tulare49383829
Monterey43267357
San Mateo41157560
San Francisco36032523
Santa Barbara33896446
Solano31875239
Merced31196452
Sonoma29696311
Imperial27987719
Kings22774245
Placer21751283
San Luis Obispo20917256
Madera16260239
Santa Cruz15571204
Marin13861226
Yolo13580200
Shasta11677217
Butte11573196
El Dorado9719109
Napa966679
Sutter9268109
Yuba609844
San Benito598663
Lassen566924
Tehama543056
Nevada445775
Tuolumne406664
Mendocino398747
Amador362551
Humboldt358737
Lake340943
Glenn235725
Colusa219816
Calaveras205551
Siskiyou194021
Inyo141738
Del Norte12747
Mono12734
Plumas6906
Modoc4884
Mariposa4247
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned610
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