Four Oklahoma health systems urge vaccinations amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 1:06 PM CDT
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KSWO) - Four Oklahoma health systems spoke Tuesday about the impact that the Coronavirus and specifically the Delta variant has had on hospitals.

Integris Health, Mercy, OU Health and St. Anthony’s held a press conference Tuesday in Oklahoma City.

In the last week, 15,490 new infections have been reported across Oklahoma, which is up 10% from the week before.

According to health officials, 1,392 people are currently in the hospital due to Coronavirus symptoms, with 369 of them in the ICU statewide. 131 deaths from COVID-19 were also reported across Oklahoma.

OU Health Chief Quality Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler said almost off the state’s hospitalizations and deaths were among people who are unvaccinated, with most infections caused by the Delta variant.

“No hospital is adequately equipped for the scenario that this pandemic has forced us into, which is that so many people with one condition – COVID-19 – are coming to the hospital needing a very high level of care,” said Bahar Malakouti, M.D., a neurohospitalist and Stroke Medical Director at Mercy Hospital. “Unless something changes, the care we provide to all of our patients will be compromised. Our healthcare providers and staff are under incredible pressure right now.”

Officials from all four health systems said Oklahoma City’s hospitals have gotten a staggering number of requests from other hospitals statewide and from neighboring states to transfer patients needing intensive care.

They said due to a nursing shortage all hospitals are currently dealing with, each nurse is caring for more patients than usual. They’re also seeing more young patients with the virus, according to Chief Medical Officer for SSM Health St. Anthony Kersey Winfree.

“These are the most difficult of times for nurses and physicians on the frontline, as they see even younger patients dying in the ICU from this terrible virus,” Winfree said. “We are putting forth all of the resources we can to help find more staffing to help, but with higher demands by patients with COVID across the region, recruitment efforts cannot keep up.”

Officials at Tuesday’s press conference urged Oklahomans to get vaccinated and wear a mask in public.

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