Oklahoma hospitals continue to sound the alarm as the number of COVID-19 patients rises while the number of healthy nurses and doctors declines.
Doctors at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital said pediatric hospitalizations were at an all-time high. At the same time, between 80 and 90 staff members are quarantined due to the virus.
“We saw that the number of children admitted with COVID increased with each variant,” said Dr. Donna Tyungu of Oklahoma Children’s Hospital.
“Our adult staff, who care for these patients, have the virus just like children have the virus,” said Dr. Cameron Mantor of OU Health. “And when they do, they’re out of work and it causes significant problems.”
Statewide, the numbers are still on the rise. Three-day averages for hospitalizations rose to 1,703, including 69 children.
“We see these croup patients who have difficulty breathing and need treatment in our emergency room or in the hospital,” said Dr. Stephanie DeLeon of Oklahoma Children’s Hospital. “We are 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 these patients.”
While treatments for COVID-19 have come a long way since the start of the pandemic, now with treatments for older and younger children, doctors said they were very scarce.
“As of today, at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, we no longer have these two products and we don’t know when we will receive more,” DeLeon said.
Regarding staffing levels, administrators said critical care beds are 100% staffed and also 100% occupied. Some lower level beds are empty due to a lack of staff.
“In the medical rescue unit, we can only staff about 70% of our patient beds, so we have physical beds that are empty,” Dr Mantor said. “It’s necessary for the patients, but we don’t have the nursing and respiratory staff to care for those patients and that’s a big issue for us.”
Doctors have said the majority of children admitted with COVID-19 will recover. However, they said COVID-19 is now one of the top 10 causes of death among children across the country.