Basing it on the “medical health of the community,” Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce has declared a State of Emergency for the City of Stillwater.
According to a release from the City of Stillwater, the state health department will provide assistance by deploying the Medical Reserve Corps, and issuing a statewide call for healthcare volunteers.
“Due to current high volume of patients and shortage of hospital staff, the Medical Reserve Corps would provide additional nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists, and medical assistants throughout the weekend at minimum,” the release reads. “They will help man overflow tents that will be constructed Friday morning outside of the Emergency Department and assist with increases of patient volume as space allows.”
Stillwater City Manager Norman McNickle said the declaration was necessary to help Stillwater Medical, a regional hospital that treats patients beyond Payne County’s borders and has had patients on emergency room holds awaiting rooms.
The ratio of caregivers to patients is a concern, which limits the number of staffed beds available. And even before the stress of the past 18 months, there was a shortage of health care workers, he said.
“The hospital’s in trouble, the hospital and staff,” McNickle said. “And it’s been that way for several days.”
An expected influx of visitors only complicates the situation.
“With the upcoming holiday weekend, several large events and our current lack of available beds and staffing, we are extremely concerned about an additional surge of patients needing medical care,” Shyla Eggers, Director of Public Relations at Stillwater Medical said in the release.
Saturday is also opening day for Oklahoma State football, which will draw thousands of visitors to Stillwater.
McNickle said game day usually means more ambulance calls.
“The City of Stillwater regularly hosts events and activities which have the potential to attract an influx of 40,000 visitors with the first event on Saturday, Sept. 4,” the release reads. “The hospital already serves patients in a six-county area and capacity is full with Intensive Care Unit and medical beds. Currently, additional patients are holding in the emergency department until staffed beds are available.”
According to the release, residents and visitors to Stillwater “who may need hospital admission throughout the weekend may be temporarily diverted from SMC to nearby hospitals, including out-of-state facilities.”
“It is critical that each of us become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks when possible. Our health professionals have incessantly warned us that we may reach the point when much-needed medical attention, COVID or non-COVID related, may not be available,” Joyce said. “We have now reached that critical threshold where our hospital no longer has available staffed beds and without each of us making necessary health changes, the trajectory is anticipated to continue declining.”
The release goes on to say that the City Council “strongly encourages” residents to follow CDC guidelines including wearing masks in public indoor settings regardless of vaccination statues, and reminds businesses and organizations that they have the authority to require stronger mask requirements. It also states that the Stillwater Police Department will be available to enforce rules or trespass people who do not comply with private businesses’ wishes.
In addition, it was noted that OSU will host a vaccine clinic from noon to 4 p.m. outside Boone Pickens Stadium.
The emergency declaration is set to expire Sept. 20.