Two hospitals will use refrigeration trucks to keep COVID-19 fatalities as hospital morgues fill up.

COURTESY PHOTO: DREAMSTIME - Hospital intensive care beds are in short supply across Oregon as the delta variant sweeps through the state. Two Portland hospitals announced they will bring in temporary morgue trucks to store COVID-19 patients.As emergency rooms around Oregon fill up with COVID-19 patients, two hospitals in the Portland region announced the addition of temporary morgue trucks.

Providence Portland and Providence St. Vincent both announced Friday, Sept. 3, that they will rely on "fatality management trucks" to store bodies.

"Hospital morgues hold fewer than 10 deceased people, and funeral homes are having difficulty keeping up," Providence announced in a press release.

Each temporary morgue truck will be blessed by Providence spiritual care chaplains, the organization noted.

"In alignment with Providence's Mission and values, these units are sacred spaces, and an extension of the compassionate and dignified care we provide in our hospital. We honor and respect all who have died in this difficult time."

COURTESY PHOTO: PROVIDENCE HEALTH - Providence Portland staff inspect a refrigerated truck at a loading dock. Providence is temporarily bringing in large refrigerated trucks to use as overflow morges due to a surge of COVID-19 patients.Oregon has the lowest hospital bed capacity per-capita in the country, and the state has reported the availability of Intensive Care Unit beds has reached record-low numbers.

The Oregon Health Authority maps the state into different hospital preparedness regions.

As of Sept. 3, 325 ICU beds were occupied out of 356 available beds in Oregon's Region 1, which includes Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Columbia, Clatsop and Tillamook counties.

The Oregon Health Authority on Friday also announced 2,449 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, and 27 new deaths. That brings the state's death toll to 3,248.

"Providence has expanded its critical care capacity by 20 beds to meet the needs of our community during this surge," said Jennifer Gentry, a registered nurse and chief nursing officer for Providence Oregon. "To staff these beds, we have been utilizing different care delivery models, travel RN's and shift incentives. While this has been challenging, we are committed to doing all that we can to support our community critical care needs. Providence has eight hospitals around the state and each one is expanding services to accommodate more patients than we have ever taken care of before. Our incredible caregivers are working very hard to make this happen and they are tired. Please wear a mask and get vaccinated!"

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