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Health Care Workers, Associations Respond To COVID Death Of Hillcrest Nurse Practitioner

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Oklahoma health care providers and associations are reacting to the reported COVID-19 death of Aimee Williams, a nurse practitioner at Tulsa's Hillcrest Medical Center.

"The Oklahoma Nurses Association extends its deepest condolences to the family of the nurse practitioner who died as a result of COVID," CEO Jane Nelson said in a statement.  "The entire nursing profession mourns with you."

"Unfortunately, this nurse death will not be the only one in this state as a result of this virus," the statement continues. "It is everyone’s personal responsibility to do what they can to stop the spread of this virus by social or physically distancing, washing your hands and wearing a mask."

Reached by phone, Nelson explained her prediction that Williams would not be the last Oklahoma nurse to die because of the pandemic.

"It's a numbers game. You start to look at the percentage of people that contract the disease, there's a percentage that will pass away," Nelson said. "So, unfortunately, this nurse death will not be the only one in the state as a result of the virus."

Dr. George Monks, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, also released a statement.

"We are all mourning the loss of this health care provider and praying for their family. We are all risking our lives every day trying to help our fellow Oklahomans. This death is a reminder of that," Monks' statement reads.

"It’s also a reminder of how our physician and nursing staffing for beds is at risk when we become ill or die. We don’t have a second team that can come in to replace us. We are all that you have short of the military coming in to help us."

"It’s frustrating for healthcare workers risking their lives and seeing daily our patients sick and dying and then seeing that our State won’t issue a statewide face mask mandate to help us. A statewide facemask mandate would save lives, help our strained healthcare workforce, and keep our businesses from going bankrupt," Monks' statement concludes.

Patti Davis, president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, said in a statement that infections among health care workers have risen alongside the statewide increase in cases.

"Hospitals take all necessary measures to lessen the risk for their staff," she writes. "According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s weekly epidemiology report, more than 1,600 health care workers in Oklahoma statewide have contracted the virus since February, and six have died. This includes all types of health care facilities. Any health care worker lost to this pandemic is a tragedy.”

 “Health care workers on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic in Oklahoma are true heroes. They selflessly care for patients every day while knowing that their own lives could be at risk. We all need to do our part for these heroes by doing everything we can to slow the spread of the virus, including staying home, practicing social distancing, wearing masks and frequently washing our hands. 

 

Several health care workers requested anonymity in order to speak freely from their institutions' limitations on allowing staff to speak to media. "Terribly sad," one said. 

Another used the opportunity to take a swipe at Gov Kevin Stitt's repeated claims that hospital capacity is more than sufficient to deal with surging numbers of COVID patients.

"Stitt saying we had 5,000 Covid beds available and ready," the worker wrote. "This misinformation is an effort to reassure Oklahomans so they don’t panic, but it’s simply not true."

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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