State health experts anticipate coronavirus cases to peak in Oklahoma later this month, so Comanche County Memorial Hospital is preparing to treat more COVID-19 patients. The hospital wants to be ready for any medical situation a patient may have from the birth of a baby to treating coronavirus.

So, doctors who normally see patients at a Comanche County Memorial Hospital or Lawton Community Health Center clinic are ready and able to provide the best care possible if they see an influx of coronavirus patients in the hospital.

“Even as our doctors, like myself, are at the COVID units now, everybody needs medical attention,” Hospitalist Dr. Ryan Winfrey said. “So, having these clinic doctors, with recent hospital experience, coming back and work with us is going to be helpful for that.”

Dr. Winfrey said they expect to see the number of patients increase.

“We are having more and more patients with COVID-19, and it takes them longer to recover from this than most people who come in with pneumonia, so our numbers will be going up here,” Dr. Winfrey said.

Doctor Timothy Trotter is one of the doctors whose roles recently changed. He’s usually performing cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, but since elective surgeries have temporarily stopped, he’s now helping to manage the COVID ICU.

“What most of these coronavirus patients really need is an awful lot of ventilator support, and then just meticulous critical care, and that’s been something that’s basically what we do on a daily basis,” Dr. Trotter said.

He said there has been a learning curve. They’ve moved all of the IV pumps out of the ICU rooms into the hallways.

“It’s sort of a different looking unit, but that allows nurses to be able to take care of the patients without having to don and doff all that garb every time they in and out of a room,” Dr. Trotter said. “It’s been a huge step forward. It doesn’t seem like it. It’s a very small thing, but for them to not have to do that again, and again, and again, it conserves on some of our equipment, and it’s tiresome to do it.”

Doctor Winfrey said wearing all the protective gear like gowns, masks, hairnets, gloves, and goggles have changed how they interact with patients.

“They don’t get to know us necessarily,” Dr. Winfrey said. “They don’t know our facial expressions. They don’t have that interaction, so it may be more stressful for them not having that human interaction with us as well. It does create some stress with us not being able to communicate as easily and as clearly with our patients.”

Doctor Winfrey wants to remind people that the coronavirus is still out there, and we could see the numbers spike. He said since we haven’t had a surge yet, it seems like social distancing measures are working. Doctor Winfrey said it’s important to keep doing that and wear masks in public if you have them.