As the volume of COVID patients continues to overwhelm health care services, Providence on Friday announced additional measures being taken in Oregon hospitals.

Fatality management trucks (temporary morgues) have been established at Providence Portland and Providence St. Vincent. Hospital morgues hold fewer than 10 deceased people, and funeral homes are having difficulty keeping up, according to a Providence press release. These are the only two sites with current plans to install these units.

Before being put into service, each temporary morgue unit will be blessed by Providence spiritual care chaplains, the release stated. “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,” the release said.

In addition, Oregon National Guard (ONG) has expanded their services at Providence facilities. Guard members provide a variety of services, including greeting and validating people entering the hospitals, transporting patients, delivering supplies and assisting patient care teams as needed.

Providence Portland will each have an additional 30 ONG members, for a total of 120 service members. Providence St. Vincent anticipates adding 20 more, bringing its total to 110.

Beginning over the Labor Day weekend, ONG members began serving in similar roles at Providence Newberg, Providence Milwaukie, Providence Willamette Falls and Providence Seaside. Providence Newberg will welcome 32 service members, Providence Milwaukie 26, Providence Willamette Falls 24 and Providence Seaside 13.

Providence Medford is currently hosting 75 ONG service members.

Providence is also investing more than $220 million across system-wide in caregivers. The release stated, “This investment in the people who carry forth our mission of serving all is to thank them for their service and ask for their support in referring qualified candidates to help with our workforce shortage.”

All caregivers receive a $1,000 bonus (or equivalent if part-time). In Oregon, this includes about 23,000 caregivers. In addition, because current caregivers are the best source to bring in new talent nearly every open position within Providence is now eligible of a minimum $1,000 referral bonus. Many positions critically needed are eligible for more — up to $7,500.

Providence is also offering highly competitive sign-on bonuses to job candidates to reinforce their frontlines as quickly as possible.

“This will help us continue to meet community needs, especially during this pandemic surge,” the release stated.