State Of Oklahoma Prepares New Hospital Surge Plan In Face Of Rising Cases

Thursday, July 16th 2020, 9:18 pm
By: Erick Payne

TULSA, Okla. -

The State Health Department said 604 people with COVID-19 are in hospitals across the state as of Thursday. That's a drop of 34 patients from Wednesday.

To prepare for another possible increase, the state is set to finalize a new hospital surge plan for patients. This new hospital surge plan would double the number of emergency beds and equipment reserved for COVID-19 patients. The state said right now, Oklahoma's hospitals are at 80 to 85 percent capacity statewide.

Governor Kevin Stitt said despite the rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations, Oklahoma is prepared to handle it.

"We still have the capacity of five thousand COVID beds to be able to access throughout our state," Stitt said.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health said with the new surge plan, 120 beds would be available in the OKC metro area for COVID-19 patients. Another 120 COVID-19 beds are available at OSU Medical Center in Tulsa. OSDH said there would be 95 COVID-19 beds at the Integris-Portland Avenue campus in Oklahoma City.

"What we've bragged about early on, and what is true, is Oklahoma is blessed with a large hospital capacity, but I'm afraid to tell you that capacity is quickly shrinking," said Dr. George Monks, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.

Monks said they formed a task force in April, as he spoke to Tulsa City Councilors last night.

"It's getting tight in our hospital systems," Monks said.

Dr. Monks said the hospitals have to plan for people who are hospitalized to be there for about a week. He said if patients need intensive care, that's typically between 10 and 20 days in an ICU bed, if they survive. He said despite the state surge plan, they're worried about becoming overwhelmed if it gets worse.

"We hear about this flex capacity, that our system has that we can flex up to 140 percent capacity, but I want to be honest and tell you, those plans are based on the assumption that we're going to have military people and contract labor be the staffing on the additional 40 percent," Monks said.

Doctor Monks said there's concern about finding extra qualified healthcare workers, since surrounding states are dealing with the same surge problem.