Oklahoma hospitals continue to sound the alarm as the number of COVID-19 patients increases while the number of healthy nurses and doctors decreases.
Doctors at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital said pediatric hospitalization are at an all-time high. At the same time, between 80 and 90 staff members are quarantined due to the virus.
“We’ve seen the number of children admitted with COVID have risen with each variant,” Dr. Donna Tyungu with Oklahoma Children's Hospital said.
“Our adult staff, who take care of these patients, they have the virus just like the kids have the virus,” Dr. Cameron Mantor with OU Health said. “And when they do, they’re out of work and this causes significant problems.”
Across the state, the numbers are still on the rise. Three-day averages for hospitalizations have risen to 1,703, which includes 69 children.
“We are seeing those patients with croup who are having difficulty breathing and need treatments in our emergency room or in the hospital,” Dr. Stephanie DeLeon with Oklahoma Children’s Hospital said. “We’re also still seeing patients admitted with respiratory symptoms, so COVID pneumonia or bronchitis in our younger patients, somewhat similar to what we were seeing with previous versions although we are seeing a lot more of those patients.”
While treatments for COVID-19 have come a long way since the beginning of the pandemic, now with treatments for older and younger children, doctors said they’re in very short supply.
“As of today, at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, we are out of both of those products and unsure when we’re going to get additional shipments of them in,” DeLeon said.
As for staffing levels, administrators said ICU beds are 100 percent staffed and also 100 percent occupied. Some lower-level beds set empty due to a lack of staffing.
“In the med-surge unit, we’re only able to staff about 70 percent of our patient beds, so we have physical beds that are empty,” Dr. Mantor said. “That are needed for patients but we don’t have the nursing and respiratory staff to take care of those patients and that’s a significant issue for us.”
Doctors said the majority of children admitted with COVID-19 will recover. However, they said COVID-19 is now a top 10 cause of death for children across the country.