SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – As COVID-19 cases increase in the Ozarks, we ask Springfield hospitals how they are handling the increase.
At Mercy Hospital in Springfield, medical staff report seven patients hospitalized with the coronavirus. The hospital has resources for approximately another 70 patients, with even greater augmentation capacity if needed.
CoxHealth reports a dozen hospitalized COVID-19 patients system-wide, 7 in Cox South. The Springfield Hospital unit COVID-19 can hold up to 51, but it is empty. CEO Steve Edwards says that could change.
“We decided two weeks ago that we should prepare it again. By preparing it, I mean making sure it is clean and ready,” says Edwards.
Edwards doesn’t see the end of the spread. “This disease will most likely continue until it runs out of fuel, and that means that between sixty and seventy percent of the country receives it without a vaccine,” says Edwards. “What we hope to do is build a bridge between now and that vaccine, slowing it down.”
In the past three months, both hospitals have been preparing. Cox says he is adding an additional 60 beds to the hospital this year, and now he has enough supplies of PPE to cover a yearlong increase.
“The city and county gave us time to prepare. We brought more equipment. We brought more physical capacity and we did not fire one person. We need everyone we have, so we are glad that they are much better prepared than they were 3 months ago, 100 days, “says Edwards.
Mercy Springfield managing director Erik Frederick says the hospital remains in its response phase, meeting with key leaders and health officials each morning. But they feel blessed by the recent increase in cases that have not filled the ICU beds.
“The Greene County Health Department did an amazing job bringing the community together. The leadership here at Mercy, as well as Cox, responded very effectively to prepare the community,” says Frederick. “The community itself responded very well and did what they were asked to do to help us flatten the curve very quickly.”
Mercy Springfield keeps in touch with its sister hospitals that are experiencing a further increase in cases, including northwest Arkansas and the extreme southwest of Missouri.
“We are ready to help in any way we can,” he said.
Frederick “Our goal would be to take on transfers from patients who may not be COVID so that we can care for them, while continuing to care for those who are sick within their own communities. But we are aware of their situation on a daily basis, and we know that, so far , it has not been requested that patients be taken to any of our sister hospitals. “
Frederick says that despite recent layoffs, the hospital has clinical and nursing staff to handle a surge.
“The economic impacts of covid-19 were expected, and we had to make some decisions that were very challenging,” says Frederick. “But we continue to draw on resources, especially our nursing and clinical staff. None of those employees were fired. Some were suspended, but all have returned from leave after a time outside the organization. So again, we are confident that not only the team and the ward and the medical leadership, but we also have nurses available. “
To maintain space in hospitals, health officials ask him to continue wearing his masks, to use social distancing, and to keep his hands clean.