Rural hospitals in the Ozarks work to treat COVID-19 patients

Published: Dec. 13, 2020 at 10:43 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Hospitals across the country are seeing more people walk through their doors with the COVID-19 virus.

We checked in with the staff at Cedar County Memorial Hospital to find out how rural hospitals are handling the pandemic.

Jana Witt, hospital CEO said, “It’s not just this hospital. It’s rural healthcare in general that concerns me. Rural hospitals are having such difficulties surviving.”

The lack of money is the primary issue.

Cedar County asked voters to support a levy for more hospital funding but were unsuccessful. This put the hospital at a disadvantage when it came to treating people during the pandemic. That was until the CARES Act brought much needed financial relief.

“It has been such a blessing to keep some of these COVID patients here,” said Witt.

Most patients arrive through the emergency room doors of Cedar County Memorial Hospital.

“It can be anything from basically no symptoms at all to patients who are on death’s door when they arrive,” said Dr. Sean Smith.

He says the biggest challenge for the smaller facility is keeping the flow of patients safe.

“That’s probably the biggest challenge is the time constraints due to the COVID patients; the time it takes to put on all the protective gear, to keep that patient isolated from the patients, to clean the rooms between patients and take care of any risk of cross contamination. That’s probably the biggest thing,” he said.

Doctors at the El Dorado Springs facility say some of their patients are resistant to the idea of COVID-19.

Dr. Andrew Wyant said, “I can guarantee you it’s not a conspirary. The virus is a live and well in Cedar County unfortunately.”

The hospital has 10 beds set aside for coronvirus patients should they require a hospital stay.

“To be able to care for them here and give them quality care. We have the same medicines that you can get at the bigger hospitals. We have the anti-viral medicines. We can treat the same. We haven’t always been able to do that but we recently have been able to have the capacity and have a designated area in our medical surgery ward just for COVID patients,” said Wyant.

“The funding and other grants, outside of the CARES Act has helped us get through this difficult time,” said Witt.

If someone requires intensive care treatment while at Cedar County Memorial they are sent to a larger hospital though most of them are hitting capacity.

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