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Some Oregon Hospitals Clearing Appointments Ahead Of Eclipse

There aren’t many surgeries scheduled the day of the eclipse in Central Oregon, which sits right in the eclipse’s path of totality.

Part of the reason might be that patients would much rather watch the first total solar eclipse in the region in 38 years.

But another reason is that hospitals have actively tried to schedule elective or other non-emergency surgeries for another time.

“With as many visitors in the area, the possibility of a mass causality event is heightened,” said Wayne McFarlin, emergency preparedness administrator with Salem Health Hospitals and Clinics.

“We want to make sure we’ve got surgical nurses in house should we need to go from a partially operating schedule to a full schedule, should it be needed.”

McFarlin says the hospital is anticipating a surge in emergency visits of up to 20 percent over what’s normal.

Blue Mountain Hospital in John Day has also scheduled elective surgeries around the event. Such surgeries include colonoscopies and endoscopies.

Derek Daly, CEO of Blue Mountain Hospital, said the hospital is following the playbook it had in place for the Rainbow Gathering, which brought an estimated 12,000 people to the area. That event stretched hospital resources because it's licensed for just 25 beds.

The hospital didn’t schedule pre-planned surgeries between Friday and Tuesday morning. Their average emergency room volumes are in the teens, but Daly expects that to double or even triple in the days leading up to the event for ailments such as broken legs, heart attacks and rattle snake bites.

“We think it’s really going to be something that mirrors the typical population and typical injuries that we have, just on a multiplied scale,” Daly said.

St. Charles Health System facilities have modified their surgery schedules at hospitals in Bend, Redmond, Madras and Prineville to create inpatient capacity the week of the eclipse.

No elective surgeries were scheduled there from Aug. 16 through Aug. 23.

Saint Alphonsus Hospital in Baker City has no elective or non-emergency appointments the day of the eclipse.

Copyright 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Ericka Cruz Guevarra