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SSM Prepares For Potential Surge


Countywide & Sun/Jennifer Pitts

Tents have been erected at SSM Health Shawnee in the event they are needed to triage patients. They are currently not in use.

In the past week the number of statewide COVID-19 deaths more than doubled, along with confirmed cases, as the virus officially claimed the life of a Pottawatomie County resident. SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital Shawnee officials said the hospital continues preparing for a potential surge in local patients as the virus continues spreading throughout the community, and the rest of the world.

The announcment of the first Pottawatomie County resident to die from the virus, a man older than 65 years old, was reported Monday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). Confirmation of his death came just 12 days after the first positive case was confirmed in the County on March 26.

As of press-time Wednesday morning, the local man is one of 79 total fatalities in Oklahoma to be confirmed, 49 more deaths than reported just before press-time last Wednesday. The total number of cases has also more than doubled, with OSDH confirming 1,524 this morning.

Confirmed cases in the county jumped from five to 20 in the past seven days, and local drive-thru testing sites began operations.

To help manage the growing number of infected residents, OSDH tents have gone up in the parking lot at SSM Health Shawnee. Hospital officials said they have taken extensive steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

"Many in our community have noticed the placement of tents in front of the emergency room," SSM Health Shawnee officials said in a statement. "These tents are not being used at this time, in the event that they are needed, we will have the accommodations ready to triage patients."

Some of the other more visible measures taken by the medical facility have included, "temporarily suspending visitors and screening individuals when they enter any of our facilities. 

 "We have been preparing for several weeks for a potential surge in our community, understanding that such an event would likely lead to an increase in our needs for inpatient care, in addition to outpatient care through our ERs and clinics. We have several plans that can be adjusted to scale where we shift resources previously identified for other purposes toward care for COVID-19 patients."

Additionally, SSM Health has begun offering free virtual evaluations at

Local testing for the coronavirus is currently available at two area locations by appointment only. Call 405-395-0300 to schedule an appointment in downtown Shawnee at the Community Health Shawnee Family Medical Center, 130 N. Broadway, Suite 30. For testing at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Community Development Corporation, 1545 S Gordon Cooper Dr., call 405-273-2157 for an appointment. 

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