Briefly: Salem Hospital At Near Capacity

Salem Hospital officials warned the public on Thursday that the facility is packed with patients.

The hospital system said it would not turn anyone away but advised patients to go to an urgent care clinic or see a primary care physician if possible.

“If they believe they are experiencing a medical emergency, they should go to the nearest emergency department,” said Kyla Postrel, spokeswoman for Salem Health. “If we are the nearest, they should go to us. We don’t turn people away.”

But the hospital, which is licensed for 454 acute care beds, is near capacity. It has about 100 beds in the emergency department. The hospital has the only emergency department in Salem.

Postrel said there was no single reason for the high demand in services at this time. She said the flu season is still in full swing and that there are a lot of elderly people in the Salem area with health issues.

“There are a lot of people who need health care right now,” Postrel said.

The last time the hospital sent out a similar alert was in January 2017.

A news release advised the public to go to the emergency room if they have: Chest pain or pressure

  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe burns, pain or head trauma
  • Sudden loss of vision
  • Broken bones with bone exposed

Urgent care clinics are designed to treat less serious problems, like colds, ear infections, migraines and other issues. There are a number of urgent care clinics in Salem run by Salem Health, Legacy, Zoom Care and others.

Postrel said the health system's board of trustees is looking at a possible expansion of Salem Hospital but that no decision has been made.

"Salem Hospital is often at full occupancy and is working hard to continue meeting the needs of the community," Postrel said in an email. "Overall area population is expected to increase by 30 percent in the next 20 years. The population of 60 to 80-year-olds will rise by 50 percent in the next 20 years, from 85,000 to 130,000.

You can reach Lynne Terry at [email protected].

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