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State's PPE stocked for 2 months while nurse shortage continues to strain hospitals

Posted at 7:17 PM, Nov 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-05 20:17:08-05

TULSA, Okla. — Between COVID-19 and flu season, Oklahoma's doctors and nurses are preparing for a dark winter. However, state health officials said the state’s supply of PPE is stocked and there are enough ventilators to go around.

Hospitals can simply order what they need and how much off of a state database where it’s then delivered by the regional medical response system.

“We have a really robust supply, we feel really confident about how much we have,” Travis Kirkpatrick, deputy commissioner for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said.

Hospitals needing PPE can order through a state database and choose what they need and how much. It is then delivered through the regional medical response system.

“If they ever have issues, they call us and we make sure we get them right back where they need to be,” Kirkpatrick said.

Still, the issue for many hospitals is staffing beds to care for patients. One way the state could increase immediate nurses is through enacting a catastrophic health emergency initiative. That would alleviate some licensing requirement to allow trained nurses in their last year of school be cleared to work in hospitals. Still, that’s a last resort. In the meantime, state officials are looking into other ways.

“We are having discussions about how to provide some long term support and put action behind words. We need more nurses,” Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick also mentioned ventilators are not in short supply. There are more than 1000 unused ventilators in their stockpile ready to be distributed if needed.

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