Healthcare Leaders React To New Surge Plan Amid Record-Setting Hospitalizations

Thursday, October 22nd 2020, 9:11 pm
By: Chinh Doan

TULSA, Okla. -

Oklahoma set another record for COVID-19 as 956 people are in the hospital with the virus Thursday.

State leaders said with more people going to the hospital, they had to quickly roll out a new surge plan. Those who worked to update the surge plan said Oklahoma needed extra layers to help hospitals evenly distribute patients.

This week, hospitalizations have grown by dozens each day, according to data from the state health department.  This week's third version of the surge plan includes a four-tier system based on the percentage of coronavirus patients in a single facility in each of the state's eight regions.

Patti Davis with the Oklahoma Hospital Association worked with the state health department on the updates.

"In our surge plans, we have triggers, and we know that all of our hospitals have individual surge plans that they can trigger,” said Davis. “So, our hope is with these triggering mechanisms based on regional percentages, that we can spread out the COVID load."

Davis said she does not think Oklahoma needs field hospitals at this point. She said what the state needs is a system for hospitals to know about each other's open beds.

"They are interested in a data platform where they can know without getting on the phone where a bed would exist to transfer a patient to," Davis said.

Meanwhile, Dr. George Monks with the Oklahoma State Medical Association said he also has concerns about the updated plan.

"Especially if they base it just on the percent of COVID patients in the hospital, which really is about how many available beds you have, whether those beds are taken by a COVID patient,” said Monks.

Monks also said more transparency and teamwork would help Oklahoma during this crisis.

The state's surge plan coordinator said the updated plans should be available Friday for the public to see on their website.

News On 6 reached out to hospitals around Green Country for reaction.

Hillcrest Health System responded with this statement:

"Hillcrest is working closely with state health officials, the Oklahoma Hospital Association and health care systems across Oklahoma on the updated COVID-19 surge plan. With increasing positive cases and hospitalizations, the timing is critical to ensure patients receive the level of care they need. We remain committed to meeting our community’s needs for care while keeping patients, our employees and the community safe."

Ascension St. John shared this statement:

"Ascension St. John continues to work closely with the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Tulsa Health Department to ensure we are adequately prepared to care for our community and follow CDC guidelines. At this time, we remain fully prepared to handle the ebb and flow of hospitalizations in Tulsa county with adequate space and staff, and we are in constant contact with both state and local health authorities to ensure they have the most accurate and up-to-date information to guide their decisions."

Saint Francis Health System did not respond to our request for comment.