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Oklahoma health experts concerned about ICU bed spaces amid pandemic

Posted at 8:03 PM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 11:38:44-05

TULSA, Okla. — "It's a non-stop stream of sick patients coming to see us," said Dr. George Monks, the president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.

A non-stop stream is putting an unprecedented strain on Green Country's area hospitals, both urban and rural.

Monks said which hospitals can't take any more patients, changes constantly.

"It depends on the type of bed that they're looking for and as you know the beds can change hourly but what we've seen recently is there are multiple, multiple hospital regions in Oklahoma that just don't have any ICU beds," Monks said.

Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU Chief Covid Officer said, "Our hospital just recently converted one of our post-anesthesia care units into a COVID unit to get some additional ICU beds."

When any one hospital runs out of beds the Regional Medical Response System then tries to find a bed as close to that site as possible. But even then, it may not happen.

Bratzler said, "There's only so much space in the hospital system, the ICU's are very, very full in our state."

"There have been times recently where physicians have had to look out-of-state as far away as St. Louis and Denver," Monks said.

That scenario could become more common as Oklahoma begins to see the post-holiday peak of COVID cases being diagnosed.

"That's a scary thought because we're so maxed out right now," Monks said.

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