Oklahoma is running out of desperately needed pediatric hospital beds throughout the state amid rising COVID-19 cases, a surge in a separate serious respiratory illness and nursing shortages.
Some children have been sent out of state to other hospitals because of a lack of beds in Oklahoma.
“There have been a few pediatric patients who have needed ICU beds that there were no beds here. Any other couple of ICUs … in the state that could take care of that sick of patients were also full, and we have had to send them out of state,” Dr. Cameron Mantor, chief medical officer at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, told local Fox News 25.
The Owasso Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine clinic issued a statement Wednesday warning that there were no pediatric ICU beds available anywhere in the state — among the hardest-hit in the current coronavirus wave — and that some patients were being sent to Texas. A few state beds became available later in the day, the clinic noted.
The center emphasized that the problem wasn’t only the coronavirus and its dangerous new delta variant. The state is also experiencing a rise in respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV) among children. But the clinic strongly encouraged COVID-19 vaccinations for everyone over the age of 12 to ease the hospital crush.
“The point is you can take a vaccine to prevent possible COVID hospitalization but not for many other things,” said the statement on the clinic’s Facebook page. “We are just asking everyone to do what they can to help a strained hospital situation … Please take the delta strain seriously.”
The delta variant of the virus appears to be impacting more children, and more significantly. The number of new COVID-19 cases the state reported in people 17 and under jumped to more than 1,400 this week — up from 820 last week.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported a total of 1,777 new COVID-19 cases on Friday for all ages, with both hospitalizations and deaths on the rise.
“It is the perfect storm, and we can prevent this,” Dr. Mary Clarke, head of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, said of the overwhelmed hospitals.
She told Fox that her small Stillwater Medical Center had a total of five COVID-19 patients last Friday, 11 on Monday, 16 on Tuesday and 18 on Wednesday.
“We have high bed numbers on top of increased COVID, primarily delta. And that is stressing everyone to capacity,” she said.
Clarke said the only immediate action to take to keep a dire situation from getting worse is to vaccinate people against COVID-19.
The state’s doctors have complained about the lack of support from GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt amid the ongoing crisis. He was one of the last governors to implement COVID-19 safety restrictions and among the first to lift them this year. “We respect people’s rights … to not wear a mask,” Stitt said a year ago. “You just open up a big can of worms.”
In a Facebook post on Friday, the state Republican Party compared vaccine mandates to the persecution of the Jews by Nazi Germany.
“We’re pretty disappointed we’re not on the same page, that we can’t come together and have the same voice,” said Clarke.
“We’re pretty disappointed that we’re not on the same page.” – @OKMed As #COVID19 cases climb, OK’s hospitals facing a surge in pediatric cases amid staffing shortages. AND it doesn’t sound like they’re getting much support from state leadership @GovStitt @HealthyOklahoma👇 pic.twitter.com/146nopyd9d
— Emily Collins (@EmilyTVNews) July 29, 2021
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