TULSA — Oklahoma’s decision to move its public health lab to Stillwater has resulted in an almost complete turnover of its staff, a loss of efficiency, federal investigations into staffing and equipment calibration, concerns over accuracy of test results, and a large amount of testing sent out of state.
And yet, when KRMG asked the State Health Department for an interview regarding the current state of affairs, we were first asked to submit questions in writing, and then simply told the spokesperson, as well as Oklahoma State Health Commissioner Keith Reed, would simply not be made available.
KRMG did agree to send them our interview with former Oklahoma State Medical Association President Dr. George Monks, so they would have context for the proposed interview.
The response (to be attributed to a “health department spokesperson,” who apparently did not wish to be identified by name) came via email:
In other words, the State Health Department addressed none of the litany of issues raised by Dr. Monks, and by any number of other physicians around the state.
As outlined above, and in an in-depth conversation Dr. Monks (see below), the move of the state’s public health lab to Stillwater has apparently been disastrous.
Meanwhile, plans to build the Oklahoma Center for Pandemic Innovation and Excellence, announced at the same time as the health lab’s move in October of 2020, seem to have quietly disappeared.
It’s unclear what the OSDH spokesperson meant when she wrote the OPCIE “serves as a vision,” but that vision hasn’t resulted in anything visible.
“It doesn’t exist,” Monks told KRMG earlier this week. “It’s a $30 million ghost.”
And indeed, a ghost in the modern sense - it’s simply disappeared from social media, for example.
Its Linked In page indicates it has four employees.
Its Facebook page last posted about an event planned for June.
Its Twitter account has also remained stagnant since June.
And apparently, no one at the Oklahoma State Department of Health thinks the people of Oklahoma deserve any kind of explanation.
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