TULSA, Okla. — Patients are back to being treated in the hallways at Saint Francis Hospital as its emergency room is filling up amid the latest surge of coronavirus cases.
“We’re so tired," said Dr. Ryan Parker, chief of emergency medicine at Saint Francis Health System. "And I know the community is tired too.”
The state positivity rate reached a pandemic high at 35 percent on Jan. 3. The omicron variant now accounts for more than half of the new cases.
All of this is leading to a full emergency room at Saint Francis Hospital where you could have a wait time of three to six hours.
“You can feel that as patients, the waiting rooms, we have a long length of stays," Dr. Parker said. "Our hallways are starting to be utilized again with patients.”
The current number of hospitalized patients is less than this time last year, but there are still many who are sick. Dr. Parker said while they are seeing breakthrough cases, they’re also seeing evidence that getting vaccinated will prevent serious illness.
“I worked over the weekend and I took care of a couple of elderly patients that were boosted," Dr. Parker said. "And even though they had a breakthrough infection, their chest x-ray was clear. However, in that same weekend, I took care of some unvaccinated patients who were still having severe respiratory processes and needing to be intubated and placed on BiPAP, and have their respirations supported.”
The increase is putting a strain on already struggling hospital workers. Dr. Parker said they’re working with even less staff than before, but they’ll continue to power through and take care of those who come through their doors.
“The thing about people who going emergency medicine or critical care or acute care, taking care of hospitalized patients, is that we are very tough people," Dr. Parker said. "And we know how to rally together and do what we need to do to take care of the patients.”
Dr. Parker said they're getting a lot of patients coming into the ER for COVID testing. She asks that if you need a COVID test, you go to another location like a testing site or an urgent care. It will help keep their levels down and you won’t have to wait as long.
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