Oklahoma hospitals move to Tier 3 of surge plan

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COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to sharply rise in Oklahoma, and leading medical officials are concerned.

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Thursday, metro hospitals moved into Tier Three of the state’s COVID-19 surge plan.

The Tier 3 hospital plan allows hospitals to cancel or limit surgeries, and it also gives Gov. Kevin Stitt the opportunity to issue a catastrophic health emergency.

According to the surge plan, “Capacity is calculated on a regional basis with tiers triggered by each region exceeding a pre-determined threshold for 3 consecutive days.”

On Thursday, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported an increase of 2,101 cases in 24 hours, or a 1.6% increase.

Although there was a dramatic spike, OU’s Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler says the jump in cases may be due to last week’s ice storm

“We saw the biggest peak in new cases that we’ve ever seen during the pandemic yesterday with 2,100 cases. I’ve mentioned that there may be some catchup that’s happening in terms of the new cases because a number of the testing sites have not been able to function after the ice storm without power. But despite that, we’re still up to nearly 1,400 new cases every single day in our state. And the other thing that I’ve noticed is that the hospitalizations have gone up so that tells me that we have a lot of sick patients with COVID-19. We have limited capacity in the hospitals. I know in the Oklahoma City metro, many of the hospitals are actually expanding some of their capacity so that they have more beds,” said Dr. Bratzler.

Right now, health department data shows that there are only 62 ICU beds left in the state.

“So one of the things that we want to make sure consumers understand, patients, that if you come to a hospital and that particular hospital has a shortage of intensive care unit beds or even medical surgical beds for common conditions, there is a possibility that you could be transferred to another hospital or even outside of the city if you don’t have high acuity illness. And of course, we all know about the case of that patient who recently had to find their own bed down in Fort Worth because there just weren’t any ICU beds available in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area,” he said.

“Right now, there are beds available to take care of the patients. Again, we want to highlight anybody that needs acute emergent medical care, go to the hospital, please call 911, go the emergency room because we will take care of you. There are beds available. You may have some transfers and things like that, but you will receive care. Please, don’t delay care if you have any medical emergencies,” he said.

In the meantime, Dr. Bratzler says Oklahomans should wear their masks to protect themselves and protect others from COVID-19.

“Our CEO always highlights, you know, that person that’s next to you in the community, at the grocery store at some point may be a healthcare worker; may be a nurse, a physician respiratory therapist. We need to protect them because it is a challenge for medical systems if we have increased number of healthcare workers who get this infection, they’re quarantined and then they can’t provide care so please be respectful of those healthcare workers. And if you’re out in the community, any time you’re out in the community, please wear a mask,” he said.

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