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Impact on hospitals once Ascension St. John closes pediatric units

Posted at 7:02 PM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-10 07:50:58-05

TULSA, Okla. — As we were the first to report Ascension St. John in Tulsa is planning to close its pediatric intensive care unit and general pediatric inpatient unit on April 30th.

That will leave only one PICU in Northeast Oklahoma which is St. Francis.

Aside from the Children’s Hospital at St. Francis, families will have to go to either the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital or Integris Health in Oklahoma City.

St. John confirmed they will be closing these two pediatric units to expand adult ICU capacity.

The chief medical officer at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital says when you close down many ICU beds that puts more stress on the facilities that are capable of taking care of PICU patients.

“I don’t know the bed compliment at each of the other hospitals but I know that ours handles more than the others and that’s a potential problem for all of us,” said Dr. Cameron Mantor, Oklahoma Children's Hospital's chief medical officer.

Oklahoma Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City has 34 PICU beds and 25 pediatric cardiac ICU beds.

But as we found out from Dr. Mantor they are already at capacity and it would be difficult to accept more children.

“Currently our PICU is full and we are managing those type of ICU patients on a daily basis just as you’ve probably heard us talk about for months now,” he said.

Mantor says when the units close at st. John, they may or may not be able to adsorb the patients.

He also points out families will be forced to travel from Tulsa to Oklahoma City to be close to their children.

Plus, if pediatric beds are full in Oklahoma, some families might even be forced to travel out-of-state.

We reached out to St. Francis. They sent us a statement saying they will work to coordinate any transfers as needed.

The Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis sincerely thanks the pediatric staff and physicians at Ascension St. John for the many years of care and comfort they have provided to so many injured and ill children in our region. As the region’s only children’s hospital, with the highest level of pediatric and neonatal intensive care, Saint Francis will work to coordinate any transfers of care as needed to ensure patients continue to receive high quality care close to home.
Lauren Landwerlin, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Saint Francis Health System

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