Hospitals overwhelmed by COVID postpone cancer treatment and other treatments

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It’s a bad time to get sick in Oregon. When the hospital is filled with COVID-19 patients and other medical conditions remain untreated, it is a message from some doctors.

Charlie Caragan recently looked perfectly healthy sitting outside his deck in the smoky summer air of Merlin, a small town in Rogue Valley, southern Oregon. However, a 72-year-old caragan has a condition called multiple myeloma, which is a blood cancer of the bone marrow.

“It affects Immune systemIt affects the bones. “I did a PET scan explaining that my bones look like’Swiss cheese’. “

Caragan is a retired National Park Service ranger. Fifty years ago he served in Vietnam. This spring, doctors identified his cancer as one of those associated with exposure to defoliants, the defoliants used during the war.

In recent years, Caragan has examined maps showing defoliant-sprayed hotspots in Vietnam.

“I found that the air force base I was in was surrounded,” he said. “They sprayed everywhere.”

A few weeks ago, Caragan was driving about a four-hour trek to Oregon Health & Science University in Portland for a bone marrow transplant.This is he hospital We will be testing in the Portland area for one week and two weeks remaining. On the way, I got a call from a doctor.

“They seem to have been told that they had to cancel their planned surgery this morning,” he said.

Caragan’s surgery was canceled because the hospital was full. This is the story of a flood of COVID patients in many hospitals in Oregon and other states.

OHSU spokesman Erik Robinson is the only public academic medical center in the state, and hospitals servicing patients throughout the region must postpone numerous surgeries and procedures due to a pandemic delta surge. Said it didn’t happen. “Surgery postponement initially affected patients requiring overnight hospitalization, but more recently it has affected all outpatient surgery and procedures,” Robinson wrote.

Caragan said his bone marrow transplant hasn’t been rescheduled yet.

Such delays can have consequences, according to Dr. Mujahid Rizvi, who heads the oncology clinic responsible for treating caragan.

“When Cancer treatment“Sometimes there is an opportunity to treat a patient. If you wait longer, the cancer can spread, which can affect the prognosis and potentially cure it,” said Lizbi. It may make possible illnesses incurable. “

Such a high stake in delaying hospital treatment is now beyond cancer treatment.

“I saw the patient preparing for an open heart surgery that day. I saw the patient having a brain tumor with visual changes, or someone with lung cancer, and they The procedure was canceled that day and they must return another day, said Dr. Kent Daughterman, a cardiologist and co-director of the Regional Heart Center in Medford, Oregon. I hope they come back. “

In early September, local hospitals had 28 patients awaiting open heart surgery, 24 patients with a pacemaker, and 22 patients awaiting lung surgery, according to Daughterman. He said he wouldn’t wait in peacetime.

“I don’t want to be dramatic. There’s just a lot of other killing of the Oregons so far,” said Daughterman.

According to the Oregon Department of Health, the vast majority of patients in Oregon hospitals with COVID are currently unvaccinated, about five times as many as vaccinated. COVID infections are beginning to decline from the peak of the delta wave. But even when the pandemic isn’t happening, there isn’t much room in Oregon’s healthcare system.

“Looking at the number of beds per capita, Oregon has 1.7 beds per 1,000 people, which is the lowest in the country,” said Becky Hartberg, CEO of the Oregon Hospital Health Systems Association. ..

A new study focused on reducing non-urgent procedures looks back on how veterans health administration hospitals went during the first pandemic wave. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ medical system has been found to reduce selective treatment by 91%.

It has shown that stopping selective treatment is an effective tool for releasing beds in the intensive care unit to care for COVID patients. However, this study did not consider the effects on patients who had to wait.

Dr. Brajesh Lal, a professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and lead author of the study, said: “But our society doesn’t really emphasize the question,’What is the price in the long run?'”

He said they wouldn’t know it without longer-term research.

At his home in southern Oregon, Charlie Caragan said he didn’t think bone marrow transplants were as urgent as they are currently facing.

“There are many other people who are affected,” he said. “People are dying waiting for a hospital bed. It just offends me. It’s hard to stay quiet now.”

He said it was difficult to sympathize with COVID patients filling the hospital when a simple vaccine could prevent most of those hospitalizations.

Oregon hospitals are approaching their limits as COVID-19 surges

© 2021 Kaiser Health News.
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Hospitals overwhelmed by COVID postpone cancer treatment and other treatments

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