Tripledemic 2022

Tripledemic (COVID, RSV and Influenza)

Hospitals around the country including Mid-Columbia Medical Center are experiencing longer than average wait times at the emergency. Why? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), viruses like RSV and the flu are at higher levels than we generally see this time of year.  These increases along with COVID is creating “a perfect storm for a terrible holiday season,” according to Dr. Sandra Fryhofer board chair of the American Medical Association.  The “tripledemic” (COVID, RSV and Influenza) is creating higher patient volumes at emergency rooms, including our local hospitals here in the Columbia River Gorge.

As of December 13th, Oregon hospitals were reporting that 86.37% of inpatient hospital beds were in use and Washington state was reporting 88.54 % of their beds being occupied by patients according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Oregon Governor Kate Brown has extended an Executive Order to help hospitals and health care workers with the rise in hospitalizations of respiratory viruses, including RSV. “Since the onset of Oregon’s RSV season in late October, the statewide pediatric hospitalization rate has more than tripled, and is likely to exceed its previously recorded weekly hospitalization rate imminently.”  This executive order will help to provide tools to care for patients, especially at pediatric hospitals such as OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

Oregon’s four largest health systems, including Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Health, OHSU, and Providence issued a statement November 17th that stated ““Except when emergency care is needed, we urge families and caregivers with concerns to first call their primary care provider.” In a follow up statement on Dec. 1, they ask that “families and caregivers to continue practicing safety measures such as wearing masks in public and washing hands often.”

Local news stations including KTVZ in Bend have been highlighting the current issue with the “tripledemic”.

Dr. Luke Webb, Medical Director of the Mid-Columbia Medical Center Emergency Department reminds us, “Good hang washing, staying away from others if you aren’t feeling well and getting vaccinated are good ways to help prevent yourself from becoming ill.  We’re seeing a lot of respiratory illness this winter and if you are having trouble breathing, don’t hesitate to see a physician right away. If you do get sick, try your best to avoid socializing or going to work to help prevent others from getting sick too.”

“Our emergency department has seen more patients on a daily basis over the past month; wait times have increased substantially,” noted Dawn OpBroek, RN, BSN, CEN, Nurse Manager of the Mid-Columbia Medical Center Emergency Department. “We are doing everything we can to provide the best care in a timely manner.  Please heed the advice of the CDC and other health leaders regarding updating your COVID booster, getting your flu vaccine and staying home if you are sick to help prevent the spread of further illness.  Let us work together to fight through this season.”

State officials share these tips to help you stay healthy during COVID, RSV and flu season, stay up to date on the flu and COVID-19 vaccinations. Stay home if you are sick, cover coughs and sneezes. Wash and sanitize hands regularly. If attending events with crowds indoors, wear a mask.

For more information

You can read more about RSV, Seasonal Flu or Covid by visiting the CDC website:

Visit Immediate Care or see your provider if you or your loved one has:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Cold or flu symptoms
  • Minor injuries
  • Minor aches and pains
  • Any other health issue that needs quick attention

Babies and children are in need of emergency care if:

  • The inside of the mouth is blue
  • Their breathing is extremely labored
  • They haven’t urinated in eight hours or aren’t taking in or holding down fluids
  • They are severely lethargic, and you are struggling to wake them

Go to the Emergency Room if you or your loved one has:

  • Signs of a possible heart attack: pain in the chest, stomach, back, neck, jaw and/or arms
  • Trouble breathing
  • Signs of a possible stroke: sudden loss of balance, blurry vision, droopy or numb face, weak arm, slurred speech
  • Bleeding that won’t stop
  • Fever in an adult that:
    • Is 103 degrees or higher
    • Lasts more than three days
  • Severe burns
  • Head injury, especially with loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Any other immediate threat to life or health