Springfield hospitals treat record number of COVID-19 patients

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 9:56 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Local hospitals are seeing their highest number of coronavirus patients so far. Nearly 200 people are being treated for the virus in Springfield. Hospitals are working to make room for even more. Health leaders said more than half of those cases are from outside Greene County.

Dr. Robin Trotman, an infectious disease specialist, describes CoxHealth’s COVID-19 wing as “controlled chaos.”

“It looks like stressed human beings trying to take care of people that are deeply involved, connected and heavily invested," Trotman said.

Trotman said pressure is typical for healthcare workers, but this is a different type of strain.

“Wheeling a patient out to the care, they throw the mask at them and say, ‘This is fake, this doesn’t exist.’ That’s a real phenomenon that we’re hearing right now," Trotman said.

CoxHealth President and CEO Steve Edwards said many staff have been threatened because of masks.

“I liken that to a hero returning from war and someone spitting on them," Edwards said.

Edwards said the divisive topic of mask mandates has led many local leaders to avoid adopting them, which is why he still says a statewide order is “the right thing to do.”

“You don’t have to fight a thousand battles, you have to fight one battle. The science is almost unequivocal, it makes sense to do it," Edwards said.

Both CoxHealth and Mercy are seeing their highest number of COVID-19 patients, 190 combined. As of Tuesday, there were 105 at CoxHealth and 85 at Mercy. Of those, a majority are from counties other than Greene.

“In the communities themselves, they see it as, oh, there’s not that many people, but ultimately, that is concentrated inside the walls of the hospitals," said Erick Frederick, the Chief Administrative Officer for Mercy.

Patients from Christian County alone account for about 7% of Mercy’s COVID-19 unit. That number is 15% at CoxHealth. The surge in Christian County cases caused the mayors of Ozark and Nixa to adopt mask ordinances Tuesday. Mercy’s Frederick hopes other communities will follow.

Frederick has asked Republic and Lebanon to add ordinances requiring face coverings in public spaces.

“We can slow it down so hopefully we don’t reach that worst case scenario," Frederick said.

Leaders said added wait times at emergency rooms and stress on staff is putting strain not only on the healthcare system, but the entire community. They said, right now, the only defense against the virus is human behavior.

“Let your opinions be informed by the motives of the people making these recommendations. Just know that these have no vested interests," Trotman said. "There’s no politics, there’s no agenda here, except for the 105 people in the hospital, some of which are going to die.”

Both hospitals said they expect more patients in the coming weeks, and have solid supplies of PPE and other equipment. Both are in the process of adding beds to allow for more room for those patients.

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