OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As rural Oklahoma hospitals continue to stay full, medical officials tell KFOR they are having to send more patients miles away to metro areas. However, metro hospitals reveal they are already filled to the brim.
“I was frozen,” Perkins mother Beth Pate said. “I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her.”
It was a long and terrifying ambulance ride for Pate and one-year-old Alice.
“I thought we were past it,” Pate said. “I didn’t know her little body was still fighting it.”
Pate and her husband tested positive for COVID-19 back in late October. Their two kids started to show symptoms within days.
But two weeks later, Pate says there was a scare on a Monday morning.
“I thought she was choking on her breakfast, but it was a really bad coughing fit,” Pate said. “She was trying to gag, and she was trying to breathe.”
Alice was fighting a 101-degree fever as she was rushed to Stillwater Medical Center.
Her oxygen levels were dropping fast.
She was tested for COVID-19. The results came back positive.
“They had stations in the hallways,” Pate said. “They had patients in the hallways with curtains trying to have privacy. It’s like they were playing Tetris with the hospital equipment.”
“We have been planning, planning and planning, and now we are scared,” Shyla Eggers with Stillwater Medical Center said.
As of Wednesday, Stillwater Medical Center is still without vacancy. Their public relations team tells KFOR they had to convert an office wing to patient rooms just to have overflow. Also, patients are being held in the Emergency Room holding area for hours, hoping a bed becomes available.
“We have seen outbreaks in the rural communities like Perkins and Ripley and Cushing,” Eggers said.
This harsh reality hit Beth firsthand. She and Alice were transferred 50 miles away to OU Children’s in Oklahoma City to help free up space in Stillwater.
“We are seeing some of our rural communities hit pretty hard,” Eggers said.
“It’s so rare to see masks in Perkins,” Pate said. “At a grocery or restaurant, there are none. They think they are not going to get it.”
Beth tells KFOR Alice is recovering well at home after she finally tested negative for the virus.
More Oklahoma communities dipped into Tier Three of the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s four-tiered hospital surge plan on Wednesday night. Now, over half of the state is in the orange region.