Oklahoma hospitals, health department work to streamline patient transfer as Oklahoma COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to climb

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – With an increasing influx of COVID patients needing hospital care, Oklahoma hospitals are finding it more difficult to locate an open bed for those patients, forced to spend time calling around throughout the day.

“Hospitals are struggling right now feeling like there’s not good coordination because sometimes it’s difficult to know where those beds are available,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU’s Chief Covid Officer. “We need additional coordination of a statewide approach.”

It’s a sentiment Patti Davis, president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, said she’s been hearing from their members.

“[They} are telling us it’s really imperative that they have a more streamlined way to know where capacity exists in the state when they find themselves out of capacity to take care of Covid and other patients.”

Right now, hospitals report into EMResource, a tool of communication that is used during emergency scenarios, and was launched this year after the pandemic was announced.

But Davis pointed out that the system only takes a snapshot of information from a hospital once a day, so it doesn’t have the real-time information as hospitals admit and discharge patients.

The other big problem is it doesn’t allow hospitals to see each other’s data, only what they reported.

Last Tuesday, the Oklahoma State Health Department announced that Mercy Hospital stepped up and invited metro hospitals to utilize its command center.

On Monday, Mercy held its first multi-hospital conference call to kick off the partnership.

“All the metro hospitals are in concert with one another, daily communication efforts, going over covid volumes, needs, all those factors, and making joint decisions,” said Mercy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Chad Smith.

It’s a big help but even information sent there is only updated twice a day, and it doesn’t include smaller health facilities or hospitals outside of the metro.

“We’re working on a system that would further streamline the RMRS,” said Travis Kirkpatrick, the OSDH deputy commissioner.

He said the department is working on augmenting the Regional Medical Response System, a division of EMSA that has already taken a role in helping place patients.

They’re hoping to help set up a system that would split the state into four regions, and share information across a statewide network.

“A large part of my day today and tomorrow is stitched together with making this a reality,” Kirkpatrick said Monday.

Now, Davis said the biggest obstacle she foresees is getting health facilities across the state to work together.

“This whole plan depends on all of the healthcare community working at their optimal level, whether that’s hospitals, whether that’s transfer entities such as ambulance service, whether that’s interim care facilities, rehabs,” Davis said. “We have to all be working together optimally.”

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