OKC doctors remain concerned about community spread of COVID, hospitalizations, deaths


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The war on mask-wearing wages on around the country and in Oklahoma.

Some feel so strongly about remaining unmasked, they are are throwing punches and toppling store shelves.

A recent study of 493 hospital workers found none of the 278 caring for COVID-19 patients got infected with coronavirus.

These medical workers were staffing high-risk areas with covid patients.

According to the study, they wore a mask and stayed safe.

“Look at what we do in the health care setting,” said Dr. Carl Raczkowski, INTEGRIS Health Partners President. “We haven’t seen any transmission from a patient to a health care provider in the last month; that’s not just INTEGRIS, that’s everywhere. That’s because people wash their hands, wear their mask and do the things we’re supposed to do.”

In that same study of hospital workers, 10 did get infected with coronavirus.

All 10 hospital workers were unprotected, not wearing a protective mask.

Those 10 infected workers were working with non-COVID-19 patients and had a low risk of exposure.

“Only 10 people got it out of the whole group, and they were the ones who didn’t wear a mask and came in to clean the room afterward,” said Dr. Raczkowski. “It’s pretty clear, if you do the right thing, you’ll protect yourself.”

In Oklahoma, our hospitals started preparing for a surge of patients in March.

In April, May and June, the number of patients needing hospital care remained low, despite a spike in positive COVID-19 cases.

However, starting in July, the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to Oklahoma hospitals has risen almost every single day, with few exceptions.

The struggle in healthcare is that COVID-19 patients require more medical intervention than the average patient, more care hours, more staff.

“We’re suffering from short-staffing, ” said Dr. Jeff Cruzan, President of INTEGRIS Medical Group. “You can have a bed, you can have a ventilator, but we might not have the staff.”

While the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) reports there are plenty of ICU beds and ventilators, the story on the frontlines is some patients are waiting for care.

In some cases, patients are being held in the emergency room until there’s a room on a floor.

“There’s going to be a time that people have to wait to actually get a bed,” Dr. Cruzan said.

As community spread continues, more and more Oklahomans are being hospitalized for COVID-19.

Half of hospitalized patients are being treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Half of those in the ICU are on a ventilator.

“If they die, that is not a rapid event. It can take weeks,” said Dr. Raczkowski. “They may be in the hospital weeks. We have so much technology and things to keep people going to try and help them recover. So, the deaths are going to be an even bigger lagging indicator. It may be months, six to eight weeks before we see the death rate pick up with infection rates.”

This week has been the deadliest week for coronavirus patients in Oklahoma pandemic history; 59 patients have died with COVID-19 in the past seven days.

This virus has been a death sentence for 536 Oklahomans and counting.

The medical community in Oklahoma City believes we are in a health crisis.

Oklahoma is well-versed in coming together; Oklahomans are no stranger to staring down emergency and taking care of our own in desperate times.

“It’s the Oklahoma Standard. We come to each other’s aid. You look at the Murrah building bombing. You look at tornadoes. We all come and help,” said Dr. Cruzan. “So the thing we need to think of now is what can we do to help each other, not ‘this is my right to do this or not do that.’ We need to think of the common good and do what’s best for each other.”

“I think we just really need to understand as a state, as a nation, as humans that there are things you can do not to get this,” said Dr. Raczkowski.

The experts are unwavering: wash your hands, keep your distance, wear a mask.

Continued Coronavirus Coverage


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