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CoxHealth closes its COVID-19 ICU wing at Cox South Hospital

Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 11:15 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - CoxHealth noted a milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday morning.

President Steve Edwards announced on Twitter the COVID-19 ICU wing built last year is closed. CoxHealth added the wing after cases began to rise in the summer.

“This is a moment of celebration as we vacated the emergency COVID-19 ICU,” said Edwards. “Our number of COVID-19 patients at Cox South has dropped to 43, and only 5 critical. We are mindful of future worries, but for now, HERE COMES THE SUN!”

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department reported 71 hospitalizations between Cox South and Mercy Hospitals. Health leaders report cases have declined throughout the month of February.

In a news conference Thursday, Edwards said it was one of the very few great days his hospital has seen since the pandemic started. He and other staff at CoxHealth say closing that COVID-19 ICU wing gives them hope, but they’re moving forward “cautious optimism.”

“We danced around and screamed and cheered. It was definitely a morale booster and we were all very excited for that to happen,” said Sarah Cunningham.

Sarah Cunningham, a registered nurse, has worked with critical coronavirus patients since last spring, when CoxHealth opened its COVID-19 ward.

“Whenever the unit was first built and we were opening it, they gave us a tour of it. It was very daunting,” she said.

The entire CoxHealth system is now treating about than 50 coronavirus patients. The COVID-19 unit at Cox South is cleared and closed for the first time since July. Dr. Robin Trotman considers the entire process an accomplishment.

“Despite critism, despite disbelief, despite all the divide in the community, able to stand that up and do that is not a normal thing, right, to build out 50 beds in a couple of weeks,” Trotman said.

President and CEO Steve Edwards said that intensive care unit saw the hospital’s sickest patients. Now, though, he says overall cases are dropping, but there’s no sure fire reason why.

“There may be seasonality issues, maybe some beginnings of herd immunity, there’s a lot of theories on it,” Edwards said.

Mercy Hospital is treating 30 coronavirus patients in Springfield. President and COO Brent Hubbard said that frees up 70 to 80 beds, leaving room for more patients and more rest for staff.

“The relief the lower volumes is bringing is much welcomed and something we continue to be cautiously optimistic about,” he said.

Mercy plans to consolidate its COVID-19 patients. Cox will leave its ICU available just in case it sees another surge.

“We don’t know what the future holds. It could have to reopen in the next day or two or it could stay closed. I think cautiously optimistic is the perfect way to describe it,” Cunningham said.

Edwards said, eventually, the COVID-19 ICU will eventually be turned into to a regular hospital wing.

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