Last month, Ascension St. John said it's closing its pediatric intensive care unit to make room for more adult ICU beds. Mike McBride with Ascension Saint John said he knows this is hard on patients and staff in the PICU, but it's all because they're filling an even bigger need.
Ascension St. John is closing seven beds in its pediatric ICU and 16 beds in its general pediatric unit at the end of next month. It will make way for a $27-million investment at four hospitals in Green Country, including St. John Owasso and Broken Arrow.
"Where we can be of greatest help to our community is with adequate numbers of critical care beds for adults," McBride, the Regional President and COO said.
McBride said even with COVID numbers down, all 60 beds in their adult ICU were full Tuesday, March 22. Only one bed in the pediatric ICU had a patient.
"We often have a waiting list for people to get in the ICU from outlying hospitals and that's what we're trying to solve," said McBride.
St. John will add 36 beds to its Tulsa hospital and another 74 beds will be added to four other hospitals in the next two years. The current neonatal intensive care unit will stay open. However, nurses in the PICU must find other jobs, either with St. John or elsewhere.
"Many of our pediatric nurses are choosing to stay with us as we open a new mother and children surgical unit," said McBride.
That surgical unit will be for women and children recovering from surgery. McBride said this pandemic has been hard for all of his employees. He's grateful they can expand in other ways, even though the PICU is being closed.
“It's a matter of making a hard choice," said McBride. "There are other services to meet that need in this community.”
St. Francis will be the only Tulsa hospital with a pediatric ICU and doctors there said they're ready to take on the demand.
The St. John PICU closes on April 30.