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FEMA Paramedics Are In Oregon Helping Overwhelmed Emergency Departments

Image of emergency entrance outside hospital.
Erik Neumann / JPR
Asante Ashland Community Hospital in Ashland, Ore.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent 24 EMT-paramedics to Oregon hospitals to help with the current COVID-19 surge.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, paramedics arrived on Sunday and are helping at seven hospitals, in Jackson, Josephine and Douglas Counties in Southern Oregon and Deschutes and Crook Counties in the central part of the state. They’re helping in hospital emergency departments overwhelmed by the Delta variant of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hospitals include:

  • Asante-Rogue Valley Medical (Jackson County):  5 Paramedics
  • Asante Three Rivers (Josephine County):  5 Paramedics
  • Providence Medford (Jackson County): 4 Paramedics
  • St. Charles, Redmond (Deschutes County):  2 Paramedics
  • St. Charles Madras (Jefferson County): 2 Paramedics
  • St. Charles Prineville (Crook County): 2 paramedics
  • Mercy Medical Center (Douglas County): 4 Paramedics

The paramedics are visiting Oregon from around the country and are expected to stay for at least 30 days. Oregon’s Congressional delegation requested medical staff support from FEMA in mid-August.

“The state hospital and health care systems are facing an acute staffing need,” wrote Oregon’s seven Senate and House members. “State officials estimate that the current surge in cases is likely to exceed hospital capacity by 400-500 beds in a matter of weeks.”

Oregon Governor Kate Brown also recently deployed National Guard troops to hospitals in overwhelmed counties across the state to assist with non-medical tasks, including 150 guard members to Southern Oregon.

Hospitals are struggling under a surge in new COVID cases fueled by the highly infectious Delta variant. Oregon, and specifically Jackson County, continue to see all-time record highs of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, according to the county health department.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that St. Charles Madras was in Deschutes County. It is located in Jefferson County.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.