Hospitals in rural areas said they're seeing too many patients with no place to go. They said because of that, people who need life-saving treatment aren't getting it.
Rural hospitals said they’re grappling with no space and exhausted employees. They said this is critical, and they need help.
"We really have patients dying that wouldn't die in a higher level of care," said Brad Morse.
"You watch people dying needlessly," said ER Dr. Jason McElyea.
Medical professionals across Oklahoma said they’re at a breaking point. Their rural hospitals are at capacity, forcing some patients to wait in halls and ambulances.
“After four or five patients in the ICU, we are full," said Mary Clarke.
Mary Clarke is a Stillwater family doctor and president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association. She said a combination of diseases like RSV, surgeries, and the delta variant all led to this dire situation.
She said patients with emergencies like heart attacks or strokes may not get the care they need.
“Because we are so full right now, there may be no place to go," Clarke said.
CEO of McCurtain Memorial Hospital Brad Morse said his hospital simply doesn’t have all the equipment needed to care for such sick patients and there are no places to transfer them.
"Right now, no higher levels of care are taking our transfers," Morse said. "There are no ICU beds open.”
The medical professionals said they’re also seeing patients being admitted for taking Ivermectin, a horse deworming medication that has taken over social media for treating COVID, which they said is causing more unnecessary hospital visits.
“That’s something that can be avoided," said Dr. McElyea.
McElyea works in hospitals around East and Southeast Oklahoma and said staff is short, and they’re tired.
“We’re under a lot of stress now," he said. "It's hard to get people where they need to be.”
Doctors said masking up and getting vaccinated is the best way to help right now, but they’re also urging people to continue supporting them since morale is so low, and people are quitting at an alarming rate.