With capacities already strained, SSM St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City is erecting a tent to help manage an increasing number of patients.
The industrial tent is situated next to the Midtown hospitals’ emergency department. Dr. Chad Borin, the department’s medical director, said it can fit about 10-12 patients and should be operational by the middle of the week.
“The idea is to use it in a triage area to quickly evaluate, take vital signs, assess patients, and see if we can evaluate and treat them from there and go home, or if they need to come on into the hospital for further evaluation and care,” Borin said.
Following Thanksgiving travel across the country, medical officials are worried about another surge in virus transmission in the following weeks. Hospitals also expect the annual rise in patients suffering from annual influenza to add to their pandemic cases.
This concern is important for Borin, who said space is already limited and wait times are growing.
“Every morning when we come to work, we’re holding a dozen or more patients waiting for an in-patient hospital bed to come open. That includes COVID and non-COVID patients,” Borin said.
On Monday, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 1,718 COVID-19 patients in a hospital and 461 in intensive care, both record-highs.
Following a request for comment from News 9, an OSDH spokesperson supported SSM’s decision to adapt in order to expand capacity, and encouraged other facilities to follow suit, if necessary.
“We applaud SSM St. Anthony for implementing additional strategies to help them manage the increased hospital demand, and we encourage each hospital to do whatever necessary to continue to allow them to see all patients knowing situations change from hour-to-hour, day-to-day.”
Despite the gloomy outlook on the next month, Borin said everyone should not hesitate to seek medical help.
“Please do not fear coming to the emergency department just because you see a tent set up. We will care for you, we’ll take great care of you, we’ll provide compassionate care for you,” he said.
Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said Sunday hospitalizations in the metro area surpassed 600 over the holiday weekend, triple the number in July. He advised citizens to practice health guidelines to help hospitals maintain capacity.
“It will take time to bring these numbers down, but a person who doesn’t catch COVID-19 today is a person who won’t be in the hospital a month from now,” Holt said.
In response to the number of sick in Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt declared Thursday a day of prayer and fasting.
“I believe we must continue to ask God to heal those who are sick, comfort those who are hurting and provide renewed strength and wisdom to all who are managing the effects of COVID-19,” Stitt said in a press release.