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Officials Announce Changes to Oklahoma's Hospital Surge Plan Before Hospitals Agree


State officials announced on Tuesday changes they intend to make to Oklahoma’s hospital surge plan after the number of COVID patients surpassed 800 for the first time.

Capacity would be managed on a regional basis. Oklahoma’s eight hospital regions would move among four tiers based on their hospitals’ COVID admissions to medical/surgical and intensive care unit beds hitting targets for three days.

Regions would be at tier one and follow their internal plans when less than 15% of admissions are COVID-related. They would hit tier two and may get staffing help from the state's medical reserve corps at 15% to 19%. At 20% COVID admissions, regions would be at tier three and elective surgeries would be put on hold. They would reach tier four at 40% if all hospitals in the state are at capacity.

Oklahoma Hospital Association President Patti Davis explained the plan Tuesday afternoon, before hospitals had agreed to it.

"The overall goal is still to keep the patient close to home within their region if that is at all possible," Davis said.

Officials estimated Tuesday the state would need to have more than 1,100 people hospitalized for three days for hospitals’ current operations to be affected. As of Monday evening, the state had a record 821 people hospitalized.

The new plan marks a departure from the state’s previous practice of paying hospitals in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metros to hold beds for COVID patients. Oklahoma Army National Guard Lt. Col. Matt Stacy has led surge planning. He said another part of it going forward will be getting recovering patients out of ICU beds faster.

"We’re working with other state agencies to help expedite the transfer of recovering patients out of acute care settings … into an area where they can continue to recover after they’ve gotten past the critical point in their treatment," Stacy said.

State officials could not answer questions Tuesday about where each hospital region was at in the latest surge plan. The plan was also not available on the state's coronavirus website as of Tuesday night.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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