Hospital officials say they’re handling rise in COVID cases
By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across Oklahoma, many hospitals are struggling to keep up with the influx of patients.
AllianceHealth Midwest officials say they’re in good shape now and are preparing additional space for possible surges in cases.
“We’re busy but we’re not at maximum capacity now,” said Patrick Dunn, Chief Nursing Officer. “We’re preparing another area of the hospital so when the surge hits, we’ll be prepared and have beds.”
The Midwest City hospital has seen a rise in COVID-19 patients since early October. They are now treating about 20-25 patients per day. From March until October, the hospital averaged 5 or fewer COVID patients per day.
The hospital staff is preparing rooms on the eighth floor to be used for additional COVID patients. The portion of the unused hospital was recently remodeled, according to Emily Kezbers, network director of planning and marketing.
“We try to be flexible and meet the needs of the community at the hospital,” she said. The eighth floor rooms are very nice, state-of-the-art units that were remodeled.”
Staffing levels have stayed steady at the hospital.
“We’re keeping up with our staffing and we’re bringing in some help when we need it,” Dunn said. “We’re doing well so far.”
AllianceHealth Midwest is continuing to operate as normal and not limiting medical or surgical procedures. All patients undergoing elective surgery or procedures are tested for COVID-19 and must receive a negative result.
“We comply with all legal and state requirements and I think we’re doing really well,” Dunn said. “I’m really proud of the staff for creating a safe environment.”
The hospital has implemented several safety protocols and procedures to protect the health of patients, staff and visitors. The hospital has modified its visitor policy allowing only one visitor for each patient.
Megan Ayotte, director of emergency medicine, said they screen about 50-70 people for COVID-19 every day in the emergency room. Many of them are asymptomatic and were exposed to someone with COVID, or need a test to return to work.
“We are swabbing all individuals and whether they’re positive or negative, they all go home with CDC recommendations to self-quarantine to keep them safe and the community safe,” she said.
New York City and the heavily populated coastal states bore the brunt of the coronavirus early in the pandemic. Oklahoma and other central states did not experience surges until this fall, while provided additional time to plan and prepare.
“We were able to learn from other parts of the country and use those best practices,” Ayotte said. “And we were able to create surge plans and put those into place.”
The treatment of the virus has changed rapidly since March. Staff at AllianceHealth Midwest use remdesivir, dexamethasone, covalescent plasma, oxygen, and ventilators to treat patients.
“We’re following the CDC guidelines and our physicians are engaged and informed about the latest information available,” Dunn said.
Hospital staff has also become more compassionate with patients who many not be able to see loved ones as they did in the past.
“A lot of the patients might be alone so we do a lot of FaceTime videos and provide a lot of engagement, empathy and care,” Dunn said.
Hospital officials urged the community to remain vigilant in preventing the spread of the virus by wearing face masks, washing hands, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.
“We understand that this pandemic has been going on a really long time and people may be a more lax with precautions, but it’s important to really try to understand how to slow spread, and prevent more deaths in the community,” Ayotte said.