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More Oklahoma Hospitals Using 'Crisis Standards Of Care' Under Crush Of COVID Patients

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A slide from a presentation by Dr. Jennifer Clark given as part of OSU Center for Health Science's Project ECHO weekly COVID-19 update on Dec. 9.

Saying Oklahoma's hospital system is strained over the "manageable range," a leading voice in the state's COVID-19 public health community said Wednesday more facilities are operating under "crisis standards of care."

"We're starting to see staff performing atypical tasks, meaning, you know, if you're a nurse in a surgical center, there may be a part of the surgical center that the elective surgeries have been discontinued in, and you're shifted toward potentially inpatient surgeries and/or inpatient medical-surgical care," said Dr. Jennifer Clark, faculty team member of OSU Center for Health Science's Project ECHO, on a weekly coronavirus update held virtually.

"The other part that we're starting to see is lay-volunteers performing key aspects of care," Clark said. "We're having students now, particularly later in their education, be released to perform nursing care."

A more visible indication, Clark said, is the tents being erected outside some Oklahoma hospitals to prepare for an anticipated surge of COVID-19 patients in coming weeks and months.

"We've talked about hospital situations where they're putting field hospitals up for, particularly, ER overflow and triaging," Clark said.

"We haven't seen anybody needing that for hospitalizations yet, but that would be the idea, that they would be able to convert into that," Clark said.

"We're not able to keep up with the discharges relative to admissions," she said.

Clark's comments come one day after Gov. Kevin Stitt toured a COVID-19 ward at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, and the same day The Frontier reported the governor has contacted health care executives to complain about doctors and nurses speaking to journalists.

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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