LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Most people don't consider how the nursing shortage could affect them personally, but the national nursing crisis is having a ripple effect on the entire nation, and it has been felt in Lawton.
Comanche County Memorial Hospital is proud to reopen more critical care beds for their Intensive Care Unit after having to close many due to the nursing shortage.
Due to the shortage of nurses, CCMH was forced to decrease the number of intensive care beds they staff on a daily basis and consolidate general intensive care patients onto one specialized unit with cardiovascular intensive care patients 10 months ago.
Previously, the hospital had enough staff to keep both separate units fully staffed and full, but in order to maintain optimum safe patient care guidelines, the hospital made the decision to shut down one unit and decrease the number of intensive care patients they served.
They are proud to have the staffing to reopen the closed ICU unit, and have the capability of admitting more patients. This keeps patients and their families from being displaced from family and their support systems, which can be inconvenient and expensive for days, weeks and sometimes even months.
"We are thrilled about the new nurses that we are receiving. We are thrilled about new hires that are coming here and we are excited about the capacity that we have even for the future to really continue to expand and provide services for the community," said Chris Ward, the Chief Nursing Officer at CCMH.
Ward says it gives them peace of mind to have the ICU back open.
"It gives us the opportunity to be a regional referral center, which is what we are very proud of. We are very excited to be able to serve the community in this way," Ward said.
Ward says as the regional referral center, they hated to close the unit, but it was the right decision in order to provide safe staffing levels and maintain high standards of care. Reopening the other Intensive Care Unit will now allow them to treat more people locally and is a positive sign that the nursing shortage is improving at CCMH.
"I'm really proud of the medical staff and the nurses here. The work they have even done to allow this to be open and the work that our directors and managers have done to make it ready is super," Ward said.
In other health news April is Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month and the Leah M. Fitch Cancer Center in Lawton is having the 'Just say ahh' screenings Saturday, April 16, from 8 a.m. until noon. For more information or to make an appointment, call 580-250-6565.