The coronavirus pandemic is putting a burden on medical personnel including those working at Hillcrest Henryetta Hospital.
“This wave is a scary situation,” said hospital administrator Dee Renshaw this week.
He said the increase in cases statewide is putting a strain on hospitals everywhere and forcing many patients to be sent to medical facilities around the state just to find front
“We have taken patients from Cleveland, Tulsa and other hospitals. Since we don’t have a covid ward, they get mixed into our population.”
That is causing a strain on local healthcare workers. He explained nurses and staff have to put on and remove their protective personal equipment every time they see a patient. “Our staff is tired. They are working hard and doing their best.”
The Henryetta hospital has been forced to send some patients to other facilities around the area. “We are trying to make beds available. Patients have been sent to Fort Smith, Stillwater and Joplin. Wherever we can find a bed.
The hospital workload was down to about 6 patients earlier this week then, “we got a flood of new ones. Now we have about 17 patients.”
Renshaw said the overworked medical personnel around the state is causing a shortage of people since some nurses and doctors are also testing positive for the virus.
“St. Francis is offering nurses $140 an hour to work in their covid wards. Hospitals are paying premiums for covid workers.”
Adding to that extra stress is the difficulty getting supplies.
Testing kits are in short supply. “We are only testing people who are symptomatic and primarily emergency room patients. The first 60 kits we used, we had to borrow from another hospital.” Renshaw said the Henryetta center has about 200 kits but that supply is only expected to last until the first of December.
The announcement that home testing kits is a bit of bright news but Renshaw said those are not expected to be on the market in the near future. ”Right now they will only be available to people who have a prescription. Later you can probably get them through Walmart.”
He said the testing is needed just to get patients the surgery they need. “We can’t take them to surgery if they test positive.
The hospital handles between 50 and 60 surgery patients each month.