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Local & Regional

With Oklahoma Hospitals Strained Under COVID Surge, Some Patients Sent To Distant States

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From file.

As Oklahoma hospitals struggle to keep up with a crush of new COVID-19 patients, some sick Oklahomans are being sent for care to states as far away as Idaho.

The Idaho Capitol Sun reported Thursday an Oklahoma patient with COVID-19 was admitted to a hospital in Boise because it was the closest available bed.

Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart discussed the situation on a Wednesday livestream event hosted by concerned Jenks Public Schools parents.

"The hospitals basically can't take any more transfers," Dart said. "They're full. And the sad part is that they can't find -- you know, you see they have to send patients to Colorado and Utah. They can't find beds. Missouri's full. Arkansas's full. Texas is full. Kansas is getting there. I mean, there's no room for anyone."

Officials from OU Health's Oklahoma Children's Hospital said last week that some of the 152 children they were forced to turn away in July due to capacity -- a record high -- had to find care at out-of-state facilities.

Ascension St. John has announced they are limiting some services due to the increase in patients. The Tulsa World reports Saint Francis Health System and Hillcrest HealthCare System are also strained.

On Friday, during the Oklahoma State Department of Health's first COVID-19 press briefing in over a month, state health commissioner Dr. Lance Frye said that the department recognized hospitals were feeling a "crunch," but said the state did not have an exact idea of statewide capacity. Frye said they had asked the Oklahoma Hospital Association to complete a survey. 

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