A surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Oklahoma City has led Integris Baptist Medical Center to open its Portland Avenue campus to treat patients with the coronavirus.
The hospital system said the ability of its Northwest Expressway campus to treat non-COVID and COVID patients was reaching capacity and Integris will be opening the Portland campus later Tuesday. The hospital will start with 40 beds and will evaluate if more are needed, Integris spokeswoman Brooke Cayot said in an email.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports COVID-19 hospitalizations each weekday evening. Tuesday’s report showed the number increased to 458, the highest since 460 on April 8. In the past two weeks, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Oklahoma has risen 71 percent.
The decision by Integris to open the Portland campus, the former Deaconess Hospital, comes after the state opted not to renew a surge contract with the Integris system at the end of June. Oklahoma Watch reported in May on the state’s hospital surge contracts with Integris and Oklahoma State University Medical Center-Tulsa.
“Given that the course of COVID-19 could not be predicted, Integris Health provided the state with a ‘reactivation option’ they could exercise anytime through the end of the year,” Cayot said. “While no new agreement has yet been reached with the state, Integris Health will be opening beds at the Portland campus later today to serve the COVID-19 patient needs.”
Gov. Kevin Stitt and state public health officials have repeatedly said the recent spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations was manageable. The state’s total bed capacity remains in good shape, Interim Health Commissioner Lance Frye said, although that doesn’t account for localized spikes in cases or hospitalizations.
“I want to clearly communicate today that our hospital infrastructure remains strong,” Frye said during a June 30 press conference. “We have strategically and thoughtfully invested in this area thanks to the leadership of Gov. Stitt.”
There were 209 COVID-19 patients in Intensive Care Units across the state, according to Tuesday night’s report. The state does not provide a breakdown of where COVID-19 hospitalizations are across the state.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma recorded its highest one-day increase in positive COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. There were 858 new cases, according to the state health department. The total number of cases reached 17,220.
The largest education line item in Stitt’s budget proposal is a $130 million school voucher program. It would allow parents to direct a portion of education funding allotted for their child to private school tuition, homeschool supplies and a variety of other educational expenses.