Statement

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Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (OAHHS) president and CEO Becky Hultberg released the following statement, Monday, March 16, regarding hospital efforts to preserve capacity and limit community spread of COVID-19.

“Hospitals and health systems in other countries have been overwhelmed by the massive influx of COVID-19 patients. Oregon’s hospitals have been planning and implementing crisis measures to preserve hospital capacity, staff resources and supplies in preparation for an expected surge in patients.

“Oregon Crisis Care Guidance recommends measures hospitals can take, including deferring non-essential surgeries. The highest level of guidance recommends hospitals defer surgeries not essential to preserve life and limb or not needed to facilitate discharge from the hospital. Each hospital and health system will make changes based on its unique circumstances. Some hospitals have already begun canceling elective surgeries, with others expected to begin this week.

“We strongly support the new social distancing measures Governor Brown announced today. While hospitals are doing all they can to prepare, there is only so much physical capacity these facilities can create. Supplies and workforce are also limited. The only way to ensure that hospitals can respond effectively to a surge in patients is to flatten the pandemic curve by enacting more stringent social distancing measures immediately. We understand the dramatic social and economic consequences of these decisions, but the time to act is now and we applaud the Governor for making these hard choices. We also recognize that stronger measures may be required.

“Our members will continue working with the state and its emergency response team to safeguard the health of Oregonians as this crisis unfolds.”

OAHHS represents Oregon’s 62 acute care hospitals and works on behalf of the patients they serve to promote community health and to continue to improve Oregon's innovative health care system.

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