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Hospital ICU COVID Admissions Swell; OSDH Looks To Establish "Emergency Rules"

According to Aug. 12 data from the Department of Health and Human Services, 367 ICU beds out of 1,013 staffed beds are in use by COVID patients. That's 37% of beds statewide. Nationally, about 23% of ICU beds are in use by COVID patients.

The week of Aug. 1 was the worst week on record during the pandemic in Oklahoma for ICU COVID admissions, according to a health information sharing network in the state. 


Dr. David Kendrick is the CEO of MyHealth Access Network, a nonprofit that estimates access to 60%-80% of COVID lab tests. Kendrick said with one exception, admittance to ICUs was highest among all age groups the week of Aug. 1.


“The week of August 1st was the worst week on record for admissions to the ICU for the data in MyHealth. Every group had the worst week with one exception. The 18 to 35’s had a worse week the week before.”


People in the 18- to 35-year-old age group have been known to lead in infection numbers.


Kendrick also said ICU admissions could be different than what he is aware of, as more hospitals are looking for space outside of ICUs to treat patients.


“I talked to several groups just today who are asking me to quantify for them the number of people on a ventilator and not on a ventilator in emergency rooms just because the staffing exists there,” said Kendrick. “Almost every hospital I’ve talked with in the last few days has some patients 'boarding' in the emergency room.”


Hospitals have been struggling to organize beds during the surge. This week, Oklahoma Hospital Association President Patti Davis released a statement seeking regulatory relief for hospitals.


In response to an inquiry today from KWGS, the Oklahoma State Department of Health says they are working on "emergency rules."


“OSDH has worked closely with hospitals throughout the pandemic to allow maximum regulatory flexibility, including the ability to repurpose beds without a lengthy or cumbersome approval process. Emergency rules are in development that will clarify these processes, and reassure hospitals of our commitment to maximum flexibility as we all work together in response to the COVID pandemic.”