KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Sky Lakes Medical Center announced on Tuesday that its coronavirus isolation unit has reached capacity for the first time ever, prompting the hospital to open a second unit as hospitalizations from the virus increase.
The medical provider said that there were seven COVID-19 patients in the dedicated third-floor unit as of early Tuesday morning, but three more patients were admitted by noon. There were only four patients the day prior.
“This morning, Sky Lakes had more COVID-19 patients than ever since the pandemic began,” said Sky Lakes President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Stewart. “And with the large number of new positive test results recently reported, we can expect more COVID-19 patients in the very near future. Sky Lakes will be ready.”
Sky Lakes says that a second isolation unit has been opened on the medical center's second floor to deal with the increase in COVID-19 patient volume, with "special accommodations" for medical staff to access the units without mingling with the public. The rest of the hospital remains open for other patients.
"Our ability to care for non-COVID patients relies entirely on having staff and providers available. If they are required to care for an influx of COVID-19 patients, then we have diminished capacity to take care of other patients," Stewart said. "Please do all you can to decrease COVID exposure in our community.”
Klamath County has seen surging cases over the past few weeks, and Sky Lakes in particular has experienced the impacts. The health provider's Primary Care Clinic closed down this week after a number of positive COVID-19 cases among staff members. A spokesman said that all 44 members of the clinic staff were tested, with six returning positive results. No patients are believed to have been exposed.
Public health officials in Klamath County reported 60 new cases on Tuesday, after recording a record 160 cases over the preceding week.
“Evidence suggests this surge ties back to at Halloween parties where people were likely not wearing face masks and certainly not observing distancing guidelines,” Stewart said. “With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s especially important to heed the experts’ advice about masks and gatherings.”
The director of Klamath County Public Health had a similar take, asking people to make safe choices for the coming holiday.
"We anticipate the statewide report will have outbreaks listed for Klamath County tomorrow," said KCPH director Jennifer Little. "However, in the nine months of our experience with COVID-19, many cases result from social and professional contacts. People tend to let their guards down among family, friends and colleagues. We have all be asked to make prudent choices this holiday weekend. Our personal actions effect our own health and that of others.”