While hospitals in the Oklahoma City metro area continue to operate within capacity, health systems are calling in extra help to help with staffing.
SSM St. Anthony and INTEGRIS Health have contracted out for help staffing some positions as patient loads remain elevated but manageable.
Because of constant patient admissions and discharges, INTEGRIS Health Chief Nursing Executive Kerri Bayer said capacity levels in a hospital are constantly changing.
SSM St. Anthony Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kersey Winfree said, “Capacity at St. Anthony hospital is in a very dynamic balance.”
Both systems said they are contracting a small number of workers compared to their total workforce. Still, Bayer said staffing is a concern.
“Our constraint right now is having enough labor in nurses and physicians and clinicians to take care of our patients,” Bayer said.
The Portland Ave. facility of INTEGRIS Health was reopened to treat COVID-19 patients in early July. Since then, the number of beds has expanded slightly from 40 to 44.
“As of today, we don’t have all of those beds filled but we’re pretty close to having those beds filled,” Bayer said.
On Thursday, Gov. Kevin Stitt held a press conference where health officials presented the state’s recently updated hospital surge plan.
Lt. Col. Matt Stacy said if hospitals in the state were to reach capacity, then facilities in Tulsa and Oklahoma City could be used for overflow.
“Upon reaching 100% of staffed capacity, (Tulsa and Oklahoma City region) hospitals, they will expand,” Stacy said. “They’re going to provide an additional 340 dedicated beds.”
Bayer said contracts for extra help have become harder to find because of additional demand in other areas in the U.S. that are handling a significant spike in coronavirus cases in hospitals.
“Even within the Texas market, as they have surged, they have pulled in a lot of the contract labor market that is in Oklahoma,” Bayer said. “So, we have lost contracts, or the staff that would normally be able to help and support Oklahoma.”