Oklahoma hospitals tighten admission criteria amid influx of COVID-19 patients

Tulsa, Okla., Mayor G.T. Bynum said local hospitals have implemented more selective criteria when deciding which COVID-19 patients get admitted as the state continues to beat its own record number of cases and hospitalizations, reports Tulsa World.

"Your respiratory function has to be in danger of collapse. Less than that — discomfort, agony — you have to go home and treat it yourself," Mr. Bynum said during a news conference. "So that's the way that rooms are being rationed right now is you have to be one of the worst possible cases before you can get a hospital bed at this point." 

On Nov. 9, Tulsa hospitals reported no intensive care unit beds were available. However, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Regional Medical Response System said capacity is fluid and can vary by hour, according to Tulsa World. 

Across three of the city's hospital systems, including Ascension St. John, Hillcrest Healthcare and Saint Francis Health, respiratory status and the need for oxygen therapy is the primary consideration for hospital admission, followed by other factors such as age or comorbidities. 

Tighter hospital admission criteria are a result of hospitals now being able to better identify high-risk patients compared to earlier stages of the pandemic, Anuj Malik, MD, director of infection control at Ascension St. John, told Tulsa World. 

"So I don't think anybody who legitimately deserves care — based on current understanding and current judgment of the physicians — I don't think anybody is being turned away just because there's a surge in cases," Dr. Malik said.

Oklahoma reported 3,923 new cases Nov. 15, bringing their total since the start of the pandemic to 154,128. 

More articles on public health:
US records 1M cases in week; Moderna's vaccine 94.5% effective — 6 COVID-19 updates
23 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Nov. 16
Face mask policies by state


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