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Surge in COVID patients contribute to longer wait times for Oklahoma ERs

Posted at 5:47 PM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-21 07:20:25-05

TULSA, Okla. — Our current surge in COVID-19 cases is making wait times even longer in Oklahoma emergency rooms.

Medical professionals are urging the public to avoid the emergency departments to minimize congestion unless critical care is needed.

Barbara Casey told 2 News that she and her daughter waited outside of a Tulsa hospital for more than 12-hours after her daughter had a flare-up from her Crohn’s disease. Casey says they originally wanted to avoid the ER by going to her daughter’s gastroenterologist first.

“When they got her blood work, they called and said she probably should be admitted to the hospital,” Casey said.

They drove from Tahlequah to Tulsa for treatment. On the way, her daughter’s condition worsened after she was unable to drink water.

“She couldn’t even keep ice chips down. So, I called them back and they said to take her to the emergency room,” Casey said.

They arrived at the e-r around 1 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. However, after receiving some IV fluids, it wasn’t until midnight that she finally received medication.

According to State Health Officials, patients with COVID-19 are filling up hospitals on a daily basis. To minimize congestion and exposure to the virus, medical experts are urging the public to avoid the ER unless critical care is needed.

COVID testing, low-grade fevers, cough, and runny nose can be treated at Urgent Cares - that also includes issues like muscle pain, sprains, cuts, and minor burns.

“One reason we are trying to get people to avoid the ER’s, for example, just to get tested, is so that we have rooms available for hospitals to care for those people coming in for other reasons,” commission for the State Dept. of Health Keith Reed said.

When a patient arrives at the ER, a triage nurse will assess the patient's condition. Depending on the severity, patients will either wait or go immediately to an emergency room.

If you need medical attention for COVID-19, the CDC recommends you go to the ER if you have trouble breathing, persistent chest pain, confusion, unable to stay awake or if your skin becomes pale or blue. To learn more, CLICK HERE.

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