STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – Stillwater Medical Center set up temporary medical tents on their campus Friday as the City of Stillwater entered its state of emergency due to COVID-19.
Mayor Will Joyce declared this state of emergency so they would be able to recruit more medical professionals. It began at 8 a.m. Friday and remains in effect until 12 a.m. Monday, Sept. 20.
With the Oklahoma State University football opener Saturday, there could be an influx of 40,000 visitors in town, and Stillwater Medical was not going to be able to handle any more patients.
The two medical tents come courtesy of the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Disaster Response Team. The Medical Reserve Corp, which is made up of volunteer medical professionals, will run the tents from now until at least the end of OSU’s football season.
The university is expecting 48,000 attendees at the game against Missouri State Saturday. Boone Pickens Stadium will be at almost full capacity.
“You still have to go to the game because this is the first game of the season. So, you don’t want to miss the experience,” said junior Temitope Olopade.
He isn’t confident that the experience will be completely safe from COVID, though.
“I’m going to be wearing a mask at the stadium,” he said. “I know some of my friends wouldn’t. All in all, I don’t think I’ll feel that much safe.”
Sophomore Abby Jeffrey feels the opposite.
“Personally, with the vaccine being out and the mask expectations here on campus, I feel safe attending the game in person, and I know the university wouldn’t put us at risk if they didn’t feel safe with us being there,” she said.
With the thousands of extra people coming to town, Stillwater City Manager Norman McNickle said their health professionals would be desperate for help and feared what would happen if they did not provide it.
“The medical staff at Stillwater Medical are just flat worn out,” he said. “With the events of this weekend and the crowds we expect, we thought that risk was unacceptable.”
The hospital has no beds available as of Friday due to the surge of covid cases, and their emergency department is overflowing.
“We felt like we might be in real trouble when it came to adding more patients to our emergency department over the weekend,” said Shyla Eggers, Stillwater Medical spokeswoman.
Each of the two medical tents hold four to eight patients and will be run by teams of four to five professionals from the Medical Reserve Corp. The tents are for lesser serious situations that don’t require a hospital bed or the ICU, such as heat exhaustion, dehydration, cuts and scrapes, fractures, and broken bones.
“I hope we don’t get to see one single patient in these tents tomorrow, but if we do, they’re here and we feel this gives us an extra layer of support to take care of patients that need care on Saturday,” Eggers said.
OSU athletics tells KFOR it’s their expectation for all fans, in and around the stadium, to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. The OSU Center for Health Sciences is hosting a vaccination area immediately outside Boone Pickens Stadium on home football gamedays and strongly encourages those who are not vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.