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Nov. 30, 2022

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PeaceHealth St. John’s emergency department faces high volumes in Longview

Hospital asks patients to seek care in 'most appropriate setting'

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Amid “extremely high volumes” at its emergency department, PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center is asking patients to seek care in the “most appropriate setting.”

While the emergency department is always available for life-threatening or emergent medical issues, patients needing care for minor issues are strongly recommended to contact their doctor or go to an urgent care clinic, PeaceHealth wrote in a Wednesday Facebook post.

The hospital is not experiencing a new unusual uptick in volumes, which have been high for some time, said Michelle Gisby, PeaceHealth spokeswoman. The organization intended to remind patients to use the emergency department appropriately to help lower volumes and wait times, she said.

“We will never turn away a patient from our emergency department. It is always open to serve the community,” she said. “However, we want to make sure that patients who need the level of care that only an emergency department can provide are able to get in quickly.”

Average wait time depends on the patient’s condition, and those with life-threatening or emergency conditions will be seen first, Gisby said. Patients with less serious needs will wait longer.

There is no one reason for the high volumes, Gisby said. The hospital is seeing a mix of patients with serious illness and injuries, as well as those who need care but could be served more quickly elsewhere, she said.

At this time, the high volumes don’t seem to be directly linked to COVID-19 or the flu, Gisby said. PeaceHealth St. John had nine COVID patients Friday, with one in the ICU.

St. John’s inpatient census has also remained high, with 111 patients as of Friday morning. That number would historically average around 85 to 90, according to PeaceHealth.

Statewide, hospital occupancy has remained about 90 percent or higher for more than a year, according to Department of Health data. From January to mid-August 2021, hospital occupancy ranged from the low to mid-80s.

As of mid-September, 44,066 of 48,232 staffed beds — or 91.4 percent — were filled. About 7 percent of those beds were taken up by 3,292 COVID-19 patients, down from 12 percent in mid-July.

Statewide, COVID-19 hospitalizations may be increasing, with 5.6 per 100,000 recorded from Sept. 13 to Sept. 19, up from 4.9 earlier in the month.

Cowlitz County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have remained above the state average, with nine per 100,000 recorded from Sept. 13 to Sept. 19.

Urgent care clinic information

PeaceHealth’s Lakefront Clinic: 1718 E. Kessler Blvd., Longview. Open for urgent care from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, according to its website.

Kaiser Permanente: 1230 Seventh Ave., Longview. Open for urgent care from noon to 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Pacific Urgent Care: 900 Ocean Beach Highway, Longview. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.

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