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Oxygen tank, concentrator shortage means hospital guests staying longer than needed

"It's not just patients in critical care or patients on ventilators. It's patients in our med-surge, non-critical care that need that oxygen as well."

ODESSA, Texas — Oxygen tanks and concentrators are in short supply. With COVID-19, you can only imagine the kind of demand there is for them.

"Oxygen tanks themselves are in really high demand. The tanks themselves are you could say in a shortage right now," said Trevor Tankersley, director of public relations at Medical Center Hospital.

That's not good news for some hospitals, but luckily Midland Memorial and Medical Center are good on their O2 supply.

"The oxygen company that we use comes in twice a week, so on Tuesday they usually refill on average about 96 of the tanks and then they'll come a couple of days later on a Thursday and average to fill out about 48. That's just the average we've seen over the last few weeks when we've been at the peak of this surge," Tankersley said.

MCH has about 150-200 tanks in total, but that's not so much the worry.

What is concerning is the lack of concentrators for patients leaving MCH or MMH who still need to balance out their O2 level.

"We're seeing lots of patients need it. It's not just patients in critical care or patients on ventilators. It's patients in our med-surge, non-critical care that need that oxygen as well," Tankersley said.

In some cases, it's because of scarring in the lungs post-COVID-19 that patients trying to recover from.

"They'll come in with COVID and they'll come in with low oxygen and then that sets a whole chain of events that causes all of these different problems and sicknesses that you're seeing associated with the COVID diagnosis itself," Tankersley said.

In the meantime, this translates to more patients staying in the hospital longer than needed.

For now, hospitals are holding their breath for more air containers from local businesses.