Covid spike causes hospitalizations, staffing shortages

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 6:59 PM CST
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Local hospitals in the area are seeing a surge of hospitalizations. This comes as the Omicron variant rapidly spreads across the nation and here in Oklahoma.

As of Wednesday morning, Duncan Regional has 31 Covid patients and Comanche County Memorial had 37. Both hospitals said four of their patients are in the ICU.

CCMH said all of their hospital beds were full, and 22 patients were waiting for a bed.

While hospitals are starting to fill up with Covid patients, an issue compounding the struggle is the loss of staff members to the virus at the same time.

“We tested over 50 employees today. Our positivity rates in some of our employees now is in the 80 percentile,” Chief Medical Officer Scott Michener said. “So, if you just do the math, you can see that 40 of those 50 people are not going to be able to work. That not only creates shortages in the staff, that creates a hardship for the people who are still working because then you’re doing double duty and triple duty.

Michener said because of the staffing shortage they are at risk of limiting care around the hospital again.

“Especially specialty care. You can’t do heart surgery, and someone needs heart surgery. You can’t do cancer surgery, and someone needs cancer surgery. It’s hard to explain that to people, but that’s real and one of the biggest risks of this whole deal of not being able to provide care to ones that need it whether it’s Covid or non-Covid,” Michener added.

Chief Nursing Officer Kristen Webb says Duncan Regional is dealing with similar issues. She’s frustrated and disappointed that another surge is happening in such a short time span.

“We’re warned and weary,” Webb said. “This is our third go-around or a surge. We barely made it through the holidays before it hit. Another year without getting to spend Christmas with our families like we would’ve like to done or many of us did not get to travel but would’ve liked to travel with family.”

She has a message for those who are working in hospitals and is in the same boat as her.

“We got to keep pressing on and hanging in there. It hasn’t knocked us out yet, and we’ll be here to continue taking care of our patients and our communities that desperately need us,” Webb said.

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