After two record days of new COVID-19 hospitalizations, the latest state Health Department report shows only 13% of Oklahoma’s ICU beds are available.
Oklahoma is seeing a slight decline Wednesday, as the state report showed 697 people are currently in the hospital, compared to 738 Tuesday. The report also showed only 13% of ICU beds in the state are available.
Saint Francis said there were 77 COVID-19 patients Wednesday in all its hospitals across Tulsa, Muskogee and Vinita. Meanwhile, other hospitals especially in smaller towns, have needed to transfer patients elsewhere, some even out of state.
Dr. Sam Ratermann, medical director of INTEGRIS Grove Hospitalist Program, said staff try their best to transfer patients as needed to the nearest available hospital.
"If a patient needs a heart lung machine, that's not something that we can provide in a rural area,” said Dr. Ratermann. “We recently had to call several hospitals to try and find one that could help us out with a patient who needed that therapy."
Data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health showed Monday’s and Tuesday's COVID-19 hospitalizations were the highest for the state with 699 and 738 respectively.
The report also showed only 129 ICU beds currently available across the state.
Dr. George Monks, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, said just because a bed is available does not mean there are enough workers to staff it, leading to a significant strain on our healthcare system.
"When you don't have the timeliness of getting a patient into a bed, when you don't have enough nurses for patients that are in the hospital, the quality of care that's delivered starts to suffer," said Dr. Monks.
Dr. Monks and Dr. Ratermann said healthcare workers are asking for the community to do our part to slow the spread of the virus: Wear masks, wash our hands and practice physical distancing.
"That will help not only individual patients from getting the virus, but it will also help the strained healthcare system," said Dr. Ratermann.
The doctors said they are also worried hospitals will be even more crowded with the upcoming flu season and the holidays. They urge everyone to get flu shots as soon as possible to help cut back on hospitalizations.