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Johnston County EMS experience strain from Oklahoma ICU bed shortage

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 11:02 PM CST
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TISHOMINGO, Okla. (KXII) -Texomans in Johnston county who need medical treatment might find themselves hundreds of miles away from their homes because the strain COVID-19 has placed on the county’s resources.

“We saw it as soon as the hospitals saw it,” said Kenny Power, Johnston County EMS director.

Currently Oklahoma only has six percent of ICU beds available, around 54 ICU beds in total, and the lack of space means patients are being displaced from their homes.

Local ambulance services like Johnston County EMS have seen the impact up close. In some cases, the EMTs’ destination doesn’t have room for the patient either.

“What makes it difficult is we take those folks to those destinations that are appropriate then they’re full then the patient can’t be hospitalized there,” said Power.

Power said every hospital will always treat a patient, but the problem is finding a bed for someone who needs a higher level of care.

Tishomingo Mercy Hospital Administrator Lori McMillin said this is just the latest in a series of challenges that have plagued the hospital during the pandemic.

“When patients are brought into our emergency department, if they are not able to stay here because they may require a higher level of care, finding beds in that situation has been much more difficult,” said McMillin.

Oklahoma has 161,425 active cases as of Wednesday, and power said the number will continue to increase unless people work together to bear the spread.

“The pandemic is upon us, I expect it to go on for quite a while. Everyone is working diligently to try to find something, but it’s not going to happen over night.”

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