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CoxHealth calls on nation to send more traveling nurses and RT staff to help with SWMO COVID-19 surge

President and CEO of CoxHealth tweets “Call to arms Respiratory Therapists! Springfield, Mo is struggling with surging Covid volumes. Cox has plenty of ventilators, PPE, but our heroic RT staff need re-enforcements.”
Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 1:01 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 6, 2021 at 6:27 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - CoxHealth in southwest Missouri is calling on recruiting respiratory therapists and traveling nurses who can bring more help.

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As of July 5, CoxHealth is treating 95 hospitalized patients for COVID-19 throughout its sites in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas.

CEO Steve Edwards explains they have enough ventilators and supplies, but staffing is a concern.

“We are aggressively recruiting locally (as have done throughout pandemic) and also working to bring more travelers to the Ozarks to help at this time. We will keep saying it: Please vaccinate now. Even if not perfect, it may make a big difference in outcomes and hospitalizations,” tweeted Cox Health.

During a previous COVID-19 surge in southwest Missouri, CoxHealth had 280 traveling nurses, but they are not here now.

“What is so challenging for us right now is the fact that in the winter we had a lot of traveling nurses here to help us. It has been harder to find traveling nurses recently to come in and help support our team,” said Ashley Kimberling Vice President of Clinical Services.

“Our team is really exhausted. We have been doing this for 16 months so not having the 280 travelers we had in the winter is making it a lot more challenging,” said Kimberling.

According to Kimberling, luckily eight traveling nurses are starting on July 6 to help.

“We are bringing in as many as we can, but it’s nowhere near that 280 we had in the winter,” said Kimberling.

According to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, there are 2,384 active COVID-19 cases in Greene County as of July 6. The vaccination rate is still slowly moving with only around 39% of the population vaccinated.

On July 1, Cox Health CEO Steve Edwards stated, “32% symptomatic pos. rate, very concerning! (From 4%) 4 pediatric Covid inpatients yesterday. Age…a few weeks old to 18 y/o,” he said on twitter.

According to Ashley Kimberling, most of the new cases are due to the Delta variant.

“In our last test that we sent to the state they said 50 out of 56 of the samples we sent were the Delta variant,” said Kimberling.

The increase in cases from June to July is very concerning according to Kimberling.

“We have been kind of staying at a census of around 95 to 105 COVID patients for about two weeks. When you compare the fact that on June 5, we were at 35 patients it is a pretty extraordinary increase over the last month,” said Kimberling.

CoxHealth wants to make sure they have enough staff to handle the potential spike after the Fourth of July holiday.

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