Stillwater City Council encouraging masks as surge strains hospital


STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – The Stillwater City Council unanimously voted Monday to strongly recommend wearing masks indoors.

It follows the most recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying everyone should mask up even if they are fully vaccinated. But is a resolution enough for Stillwater with OSU classes set to begin this fall?

“If we don’t take extreme action and quick, we are going to see our colleagues and loved ones either die here or die away from here,” said Dr. John Wedlake with Stillwater Medical Center.

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Wedlake talked about the dire circumstances now invading the Stillwater medical community. Doctors and nurses are sounding the alarm.

“Right now, the state of Stillwater Medical Center is that we do not have any available beds,” said Liz Michael, chief nursing officer at Stillwater Medical Center. “We’re out of ICU space, our ED is packed and I don’t have the staff to take care of all of the patients that need our care. It is a scary time for us.”

Nationwide, we’re dealing with a nurse shortage. In Oklahoma alone, Michael said we have lost about 25% of nurses. One of the reasons is because nurses are leaving the profession.

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Aside from staff shortages, most of the patients admitted into the ICU and med surge beds have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and all of them are unvaccinated. The patients range in age from 18-84.

Wedlake said it’s going to take more than just encouraging people to wear a mask in Stillwater. Especially, with thousands OSU college students about to descend on Stillwater.

“I’m concerned that when our students from Oklahoma State return, that we are not going to be prepared for what is coming to us in the next few weeks,” Wedlake said.

Meanwhile health experts are begging people to get vaccinated before it’s too late.

“Look at what science is telling us. It really does make a difference,” Michael said. “Vaccination, although, is not perfect. What it can do is prevent you from being on that ventilator, prevent the situation while someone’s holding your hand while you take your last breath. It’s not a good place to be.”

‘It’s watching people struggle to breathe every day’: Stillwater Medical Center ICU nurses talk about COVID-19 pandemic

Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce said he’s not sure of the effectiveness of a mask mandate ordinance. He said he’s willing to consider it at the next city council meeting set for August 16.

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