Asante Requests More State Nurses as Staffing is Strained

Asante Healthcare Systems reports they are experiencing an extreme surge in patient volume, mostly due to the rapid rise of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19 cases.

The healthcare provider says that the intense strain the “tripledemic” is having on already-limited staffing resources and capacity is challenging. Asante is taking action to activate “crisis of care standards for nurse staffing” at Asante Rogue Regional and Asante Three Rivers now.

Crisis standards of care may be activated when patient care resources are severely limited; more patients need critical care than hospitals can supply; and moving patients to another critical care center is not an option. Asante plans to follow the guidance issued by Oregon Health Authority as they navigate this time.

Key points:

  • Declaring crisis standards of care gives Asante the flexibility to adjust staffing plans systemwide. For example, it allows authorities to alter patient assignments based on resources available.
  • Asante will continue to care for patients in the location that best meets their needs, meaning some patients may be transferred within their health system.
  • Asante will thoughtfully review daily surgeries and procedures to consider those that can safely be postponed or canceled.
  • Asante will be receiving at least eight state-funded contract nurses through Gov. Brown’s executive order extending the state of emergency. (Asante originally requested 40 and are waiting to learn if more nursing contracts will be filled.)
  • Asante is not making triage decisions (i.e., decisions necessary to provide equitable prioritization of critical care resources). Asante is entering crisis standards of care in order to optimize all resources, including staffing.

Asante is not the first health system in our state to take this step. Portland-area health systems have activated crisis standards of care, including OHSU, Legacy Health, Providence and Kaiser Permanente.

Asante remarks they are working collaboratively with health systems in our region, with county public health officials and OHA to discuss resources and capacity constraints. They continue to provide educational information to the public to first seek care with primary, urgent or immediate care providers for non-emergency issues.

Officials are monitoring and evaluating the situation at all three Asante hospitals, in an ongoing basis.

Healthcare officials remarked that the past few years have provided Asante with a wealth of experience to draw from — of caring for seriously ill patients, of creating surge plans to maximize valuable resources, of finding creative solutions to unforeseen challenges.

Source: Lauren Van Sickle- Asante Manager, Communications and Public Relations