Fairfax hospital braces for possible COVID-19 surge

Robert Smith

The interim CEO of the Fairfax Community Hospital on Monday said the 15-bed, critical-access hospital is bracing for a possible “surge” in COVID-19 cases in the coming week.

“We are prepared for a surge,” said CEO Carl Laffoon, of First Physicians Capital Group, which manages the hospital. Laffoon said Monday that Fairfax Community Hospital had no COVID-19 patients at that point, and none of the tests that the hospital had done for the illness had come back positive. Based on the advice of experts, however, the hospital was preparing to respond to a potential need to treat COVID-19, he said.

The Journal-Capital contacted Jason McBride, administrator of the Pawhuska Hospital, to obtain information about its current posture in regard to COVID-19, and submitted to McBride a brief summary of the topics about which the newspaper would like for the hospital’s parent company to agree to provide information, but the Journal-Capital heard nothing from Pawhuska Hospital before the deadline for this edition.

Fairfax Community Hospital announced April 7 that it had entered into an arrangement with the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences to provide telehealth services to patients.

“The program offers Fairfax Community Hospital in-patients with instant access to virtual doctors 24/7,” the hospital’s managing group said in a news release. “As patients rest in their hospital beds, an on-site nursing staff in close collaboration with a healthcare provider can run tests, conduct assessments, and offer a plan of care through a virtual telemedicine mobile cart.”

Laffoon confirmed to the Journal-Capital that it is hoped this arrangement with the OSU Center for Health Sciences will help the Fairfax hospital to better handle the pressures involved in providing care if there is a surge of COVID-19 patients. Caring for those stricken by the viral illness generally calls for a lot of protective gear for physicians who are on-site, and results in increased job stress for physicians and other care providers.

“OSU Telehealth Solution will provide our hospital with an opportunity where trained physicians actually see the patients every day,” Laffoon said in the news release regarding the new arrangement with OSU, “This proactive approach allows us go above and beyond and thoroughly evaluate and treat each of our patients.”

Laffoon said some hiring was being done for Fairfax Community Hospital, of temporary nurses who had been employed at facilities that furloughed them.