COVID-19 patient waits 9 hours for hospital bed in Oklahoma, physician claims

A COVID-19 patient waited for a Tulsa hospital bed for more than nine hours July 22, according to George Monks, MD, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, Tulsa World reports.

Dr. Monks posted on social media July 23 that a COVID-19 patient was in an emergency room at 8:30 a.m. but wasn’t placed in a hospital bed until after 5:30 p.m., when “the one and only bed in the entire Tulsa metro area became available.”

Oklahoma health department spokesperson Donelle Harder said the agency wasn’t able to confirm this with Tulsa hospitals. Interim Health Commissioner Col. Lance Frye, MD, said Tulsa-area hospitals report having the resources to respond to current demands and that they hadn’t identified a hospital operating at maximum capacity due to the pandemic.

Dr. Monks said in a July 23 tweet that he received his information from a colleague and hopes it reflects a one-time occurrence. He said bed capacity isn’t equal to staffing, with Oklahoma already experiencing a physician and nurse shortage before the pandemic.

Bruce Dart, PhD, executive director of the Tulsa Health Department, said data showed hospitals at about 80 percent capacity July 22, with COVID-19 patients staying an average of 7.5 days. 

“We’re really not as concerned about bed capacity — which is always going to be an issue in hospitals,” Dr. Dart said. “It’s important that each hospital has the staffing to man each bed so that patients can be taken care of.”

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said the state built COVID-19 overflow capacity, specifically 124 overflow rooms at Tulsa-based Oklahoma State University Medical Center. Mr. Bynum noted that the facility is not currently staffed to handle 124 COVID-19 patients.

More articles on patient flow:
Massachusetts hospital remains closed one month after flooding
‘Our backs are to the wall’: Texas hospital to turn away COVID-19 patients with poor survival chances
‘Mississippi has utterly failed to contain spread of the coronavirus,’ hospital association says

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