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Health experts fear state hospitals could soon reach a breaking point

Posted at 6:44 PM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-05 07:51:49-05

TULSA, Okla. — Medical experts are fearing state hospitals could soon run out of resources. This as Oklahoma City continues to see a rise in hospitalizations, pushing them into a higher tier in the state’s surge plan.

READ MORE: State health officials announce 'surge plan 3' as COVID-19 hospitalization rates spike

Dr. Cameron Mantor, chief medical officer at OU, described the current hospital situation as a broken water faucet. Medical staff are seeing an influx in patients with no end in sight. Saint Francis Health System echoed that message last week saying the current hospitalization rate is not sustainable.

“Hospitals cannot stop a pandemic. Oklahomans have to stop the pandemic,” Dr. Mantor said. He said the general public is the final safeguard against hospitals reaching their breaking point and it all comes down to wearing a mask.

“We have to impact that in the community or we’re spinning our wheels. We will run out of resources,” Dr. Mantor said.

Oklahoma City hospitals are on track to enter tier three of the state’s hospital surge plan. That means nearly 20% of patients hospitalized are there for COVID-19.​

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Tulsa County remains in tier 1, meaning that less than 15% of patients are hospitalized with COVID-19. Meanwhile, Hillcrest Medical Center said they too have an increase in patients being treated for COVID-19. They are now between 90 to 95% capacity with both COVID and non-COVID patients.

Tulsa County’s surge hospital was OSU Medical Center, but the term of the contract, designating them as a surge facility, ended on Sept. 21. That would have allowed the hospital to receive contract nurses to help support the facility.

As of Nov. 1, the White House coronavirus task force lists Oklahoma among middle-country state’s heavily impacted by the spread of the virus. Tulsa County remains in a red zone and cases continue to rise across the state, emphasizing the importance of COVID-19 safety protocols.

READ MORE: White House report shows more than 50% of Green Country counties in coronavirus 'red zone'

“We have to figure out how to message that to people,” Dr. Mantor said. “It is of paramount importance. They have to be a part of the solution.”

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