OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As coronavirus cases continue to climb across Oklahoma, local health experts are concerned about hospital capacity.
On Tuesday, data from Oklahoma State Department of Health shows that the state has had 101,493 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March.
Officials reported that there were 760 people hospitalized with either a confirmed or presumptive case of COVID-19.
“As you know, the hospitals are starting to fill up, particularly in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. There are still beds available but ICU beds have been at a premium recently and there has been some movement of patients around the city to find open ICU beds. As you mentioned, there were 266 confirmed cases in an ICU bed. Those are obviously very, very sick patients and require quite specialized care. Since the start of the pandemic, a lot of people don’t recognize it, but if you take the entire pandemic, the 31 weeks that we’re in the pandemic, we’ve seen more than 3,000 cases per week in Oklahoma and we’ve seen 35 deaths every single week since this pandemic started. It’s really become a crisis across the state at this point,” Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU Medical Chief COVID officer, told KFOR on Tuesday.
During the Oklahoma City Council meeting on Tuesday, city councilmembers received an update about the metro’s hospital capacity.
Regional Medical Responses System Director Heather Yazdanipour says there is some concern about the number of ICU beds in the metro.
“I think the hospital association was correct in telling you that it wasn’t going very well. Looking at our numbers just this morning I don’t have any ICU beds available in Oklahoma City. I know that the numbers will show that I have a handful. The problem with that is I think what Dr. McGough touched on is we’re having a shortage of staffing so I may have beds that are technically listed as part of that hospital’s capacity. What I don’t have is a capability to staff it, to take care of patient,” she said.
Officials with OU Health Sciences Center say they have decided to activate a plan to move COVID-19 patients into its OU Medical Center North Tower.
“The opening of the facility provides additional capacity to care for COVID-19 patients, while ensuring OU Medicine has the resources to care for non-COVID patients from our community,” a notice read.
Yazdanipour says many patients have been transferred to other regions that have more ICU beds available.
“I am moving patients out of our region unfortunately. We’d love to keep them here, but if I need an ICU bed and I don’t have one here then I have been spending a lot of overnights and I apologize for my voice, but a lot of overnights calling other regions in Oklahoma to see if they have a hospital bed that can take that patient and then finding transportation to get that patient to that bed,” she said.
She says that moving patients to other areas create additional stress on a patient’s body. There is also added stress on EMSA as they have to drive patients to areas like Tulsa.
“So we are definitely feeling a crunch and all of our facilities are well above capacity. They’re functioning at an average at about 110 to 120% capacity,” Yazdanipour said.
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