Patients across Portland’s tri-county area are facing long waits at hospital emergency departments.
Paul Lewis with the Multnomah County Health Department says local ERs have been unusually busy for the last three weeks, and patients with non-urgent conditions are having to wait for hours.
He says there’s been a perfect storm of problems.
“First, influenza hit early this year and we haven’t seen the peak yet,” Lewis said. “Second, the seemingly endless winter storms have slowed ambulances, closed clinics and made patients miss appointments, so demand for health care is up.”
He said nursing staff have also been hit by the flu, creating staff shortages that make it harder for hospitals to process paperwork for patients.
People with less serious conditions are being asked to contact their own doctor or go to non-urgent care instead.
Authorities say that while ambulances are being sent to more distant hospitals, nobody will be turned away if they turn up for urgent care.