CoxHealth, Mercy Hospital heath officials call for extending Springfield mask ordinance

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 9:36 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Hospital leaders from CoxHealth and Mercy are calling on Springfield to extend its mask ordinance as cases of COVID-19 continue to fill hospital beds.

Cox Health President Steve Edwards said the COVID-19 unit the hospital built earlier this year was designed to be a safety valve they hoped they never needed to use. Now, Edwards said that unit stays very busy, full of patients fighting for their lives.

“We’ve had more deaths in the last month than the whole year before that," Edwards said.

Edwards said nine patients have died from the virus in their hospitals since Monday. Patients come from Greene and surrounding counties. He expects hospitalizations to continue to be high for several more weeks.

“When I tour our unit I see people I actually know," Edwards said. “I see patients I know. These aren’t statistics on a chart, these are people we know and care for and if we can reduce the spread that may mean someone I love doesn’t die and that is important to me."

Brent Hubbard, President and COO of Mercy Springfield Communities said they haven’t seen a significant spike in COVID-19 related deaths this week. But Hubbard said the community needs to step up to make sure that continues.

”The masking ordinance has been critical as well and we hope to extend the masking ordinance and that’s passed," Hubbard said.

Mercy infectious disease physician Will Sistrunk emphasized the personal responsibility citizens have to stop the spread of the virus.

”It can be prevented if we follow the steps that have been outlined by the CDC, the state health department and the Greene County Health Department," Sistrunk said.

Edwards said masking ordinances in Taney County have had an impact on the number of patients coming in.

“About a month ago Taney County was our most prevalent, we had more patients from Taney County than anywhere else," Edwards said. "Yesterday I looked and we had two from Taney County and I don’t know how to explain it other than they hit a real peak, they masked, and they hit this precipitous decline.”

Infectious disease doctors at both hospitals are utilizing every tool they can to treat patients. The stock of convalescent plasma, used to treat the virus was nearly zero at hospitals earlier this week. With a small stock coming in, doctors are asking the community to step in and help.

”I would encourage people locally that have had COVID-19 in the past that there is a need for donation of convalescent plasma," Sistrunk said.

Dr. Robin Trotman, an infectious disease doctor with CoxHealth, said data suggests the effectiveness of the convalescent plasma might decrease overtime.

“We really want people as soon as their candidates to donate, they need to do it soon,” Trotman said. “Your number of antibodies in your blood may decrease over 60-90 days."

Trotman said the hospital has an ample supply of dexamethasone and Remdisevir, used to treat the virus. But, the supply of plasma is at risk. Edwards urged people wanting their donations to be used locally to give plasma at the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks.

Springfield’s masking ordinance is scheduled to end October 14, unless extended.

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