By Conrad Dudderar
All intensive and immediate care beds at Yukon’s hospital have been at full capacity since mid-July as COVID-19 cases rise.
Teresa Gray, chief hospital executive at INTEGRIS Canadian Valley Hospital, has joined other public health officials to ask Canadian County residents to get vaccinated if they haven’t already.
“We have experienced an increase in our COVID-19 positive patients requiring hospitalization beginning around July 14,” Gray said.
Over the previous several months, ICVH had been caring for one or two COVID-19 patients.
But that number has increased lately to 10-11 positive patients at Yukon’s hospital, 1201 Health Center Parkway.
“A vast majority of the patients hospitalized are not vaccinated,” Gray pointed out. “We are seeing the same trend in our other INTEGRIS Health hospitals.”
Meanwhile, all Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Intermediate Care Unit (IMC) beds at the hospital are full – and have been since mid-July.
“Our house-wide census has been extremely strong, at or above 100%,” Gray said. “Our Emergency Department census has also been steadily rising with many patients presenting with COVID-like symptoms and testing positive.”
Oklahoma is ranked among the bottom 10 states nationally in COVID-19 vaccination rates. Some 40.3% of the state’s 3.9 million population has been fully vaccinated while around 48% have received at least one dose, according to state health department data.
Canadian County’s rate is considerably better, with about 50% of eligible residents being fully vaccinated and some 58% having gotten at least one dose.
The Canadian County Health Department, health care providers and local pharmacies offer the COVID-19 vaccine without appointments.
“If you are vaccinated, you are 3-1/2 times less likely to get infected,” CCHD spokeswoman Maggie Jackson said. “Hospitalizations are very rare among people who have been fully vaccinated.
“We do have some COVID-19 cases for people who have been vaccinated. The vaccines are about 95% effective.”
Jackson noted there has been “less of a surge” in cases among the older, more “vulnerable” population. Vaccination rates are considerably higher among people 65 years and above.
Local and state health officials believe the new Delta variant is more contagious as the previous COVID-19 strain.
Yukon’s chief hospital administrator is asking the public to remain vigilant and follow health and safety protocols.
“Canadian County and most counties in Oklahoma currently fall in areas considered to be high risk,” Gray said. “To reverse the surge of the Delta variant we’re seeing, we will need more of the population to be vaccinated.
“INTEGRIS Health continues to encourage vaccination, wearing masks indoors, handwashing and social distancing from those outside your circle.”
ICVH officials are watching the COVID-19 trends closely, praying they don’t experience a repeat of last year when the pandemic prompted widespread shutdowns.