PNW: Lowest Hospital Bed Rate Per Capita

Oregon hospitals are swamped as more and more unvaccinated people catch the Delta variant of COVID-19. This is only worsened by the ongoing nationwide healthcare worker shortage and the low number of hospital beds available. Oregon and Washington are tied in having 1.7 beds per 1,000 residents — the lowest rate for any state in the U.S. 

This was originally a point of pride for both states. The Affordable Care Act freed up time and space to focus on preventative medicine, keeping people healthy enough to stay out of the hospital. In the midst of a new chapter of a global pandemic, however, this has rapidly become a major problem. 

Oregon also has regulations in place so that there aren’t too many empty beds lying around; a hospital has to petition the state in order to add beds. This is not an easy solution, however, because even if more beds were added, hospitals simply don’t have enough staff to manage them.  

Worse yet for the issue of staffing shortages, healthcare workers across the state are choosing to quit in protest of the vaccine mandate, or have been placed on unpaid administrative leave for not following this mandate, much like hundreds of caregivers in the PeaceHealth System — over 100 of them nurses.   

By Jalen Todd