Doctors Say COVID-19 Continues To Affect Emergency Room Operations


Tuesday, December 15th 2020, 6:21 pm
By: Erick Payne


TULSA, Okla. -

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals is still making an impact on emergency rooms across the state.

The Healthier Oklahoma Coalition said they’re seeing issues trying to transfer people out of the ER to regular beds.

The coalition said the last month or so has been rough on emergency rooms. Medical professionals said hospitals are having to get creative to keep things under control.

ER doctors said if you end up in the hospital for an emergency, you'll still get the quick and critical care you need. That goes for things like car crashes, heart attacks and similar crises. Doctor Jason Benn with Integris in OKC said it's what happens when you need to be transferred out of the ER to a normal bed that's the problem right now.

"We run on a thin margin day-in, day-out anyway, so then you add on a global pandemic and all these extra patients, and that's what's taxing on the system. It's not the care you're going to receive in the emergency department, it's where you go from there, which does tax the ER as well," Benn said.

Benn said it's making wait times longer, and it's harder to get people in and out of the hospital.

Steven Barnes is the clinical lead of Hillcrest's emergency department. He said they're seeing the same issues there, and are having to get creative.

Barnes said they've set up more COVID beds to try to deal with the increase.

"It's relieved some of the pressure in the ER, but eventually those beds are going to fill up again and we're going to be in the same boat," Barnes said.

The Healthier Oklahoma Coalition and Doctor Barnes said they hope the vaccine rollout will start to relieve pressure on hospitals and emergency rooms.