At the Salem Health emergency department — the busiest ER in the state — patient visits were up by over 20 percent in the past week, according to chief nursing officer Sarah Horn. The spike in patients led to a record hospital census of 470 patients in need of beds at one point.
Most hospitals across Oregon are facing similar surges in patient visits due to the flu, respiratory illness and weather-related accidents.
"Despite our increase in volume at Salem Health, the Emergency Department staff and physicians have been working diligently to put processes in place to ensure we are meeting the needs of our community," said Horn.
If you have an illness or injury and need medical attention, here’s what to know before you come in so that you can get the fastest and most appropriate treatment. The Salem Health Emergency Department should be used in times of life-threatening illness or injury, such as:
· Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
· Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
· Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness
· Changes in vision
· Confusion or changes in mental status
· Any sudden or severe pain
· Uncontrolled bleeding
· Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
· Coughing or vomiting blood
· Suicidal or homicidal feelings
· Stroke symptoms
For illness or injury that is not life-threatening, people should seek alternative methods of care, like Salem Health’s Convenient Care, primary care providers or nurse advice lines.
Salem Health has also implemented a temporary visitor restriction to protect patient safety. Only the people needed to give support to — and care for — patients should visit. No visitors under the age of 12 are allowed at any time. Individuals who are sick or have been in contact with someone who was sick should not visit.
Additionally, it’s not too late to get a flu shot.