Oklahoma City area hospitals running out of ICU beds – some at unprecedented rates – as COVID-19 cases spike once again


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Major metro hospitals are reporting they are out of ICU beds – with some calling this time unlike anything they’ve seen before.

Since Wednesday, INTEGRIS, SSM Health and OU health have all reported having zero ICU beds available.

“This time is unprecedented,” said Dr. Kersey Winfree with SSM Health.

Experts at the metro’s major hospital systems are sounding the alarm once again as they grapple with a strong need for help.

At SSM Health’s three metro locations, zero ICU beds are available and hospital staff is strained.

“We’ve had a lot of depletion of our workforce,” Winfree said. “We’ve had a lot of trouble with staffing.”

SSM is treating 175 COVID-19 patients, and officials say 90% of those are unvaccinated.

“There’s a bit of irony in the fact that we have at least a partial solution out there in the vaccine campaign,” said Winfree. 

Doctors say a portion of those in the hospital with COVID-19 came in for other reasons and happened to test positive for the virus as well.

However, that still adds to the stress on the system.

“We still have to have staffing, personal protective gear because they have to be isolated,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler with OU Health. “So even if they’re not here for COVID, they still take a lot of resources to take care of them.”

In addition, people continue to call 911 or show up at some emergency rooms just to get tested for COVID.

“A lot of that is driven by anxiety, fear and not knowing just what could happen,” Winfree said. “Many people need to know because they have families that they need to distance from. Many people need to know because they have employers who want that information.”

All of these factors – causing congestion in the healthcare system as people try to get in – and out – of the hospital.

“On the side where people are leaving the hospital and going to other post-acute facilities it’s important to keep in mind that those facilities are becoming limited in what they can take as far as capacity and that exasperates the blockage of patient flow out of the hospital,” Winfree said. 

Last week, Immediate Care of Oklahoma’s Edmond location was forced to close due to lack of staff as some tested positive for COVID-19.

On Thursday, Access Medical Center on Rockwell in Oklahoma City had to close its doors due to staff members ill with COVID. They plan to re-open at 8 a.m. Friday.

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