Springfield-Greene County health leaders request funding for COVID-19 alternate care site as hospitalizations grow

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 3:07 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield-Greene County Health Department and the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management submitted a request to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the State Emergency Management Agency for a COVID-19 alternative care site (ACS).

Both agencies created the request in coordination with CoxHealth, Mercy and Jordan Valley Community Health Center in response to the growing need for medical care in the region due to the rise in severe cases of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization and critical care.

“Over the past week we have seen dramatic increases in COVID-19 related cases,” said Springfield-Greene County Acting Health Director Katie Towns.

On Wednesday, the hospitals reported 231 patients treated in Greene County hospitals with COVID-19, 104 of those are in critical care and 61 are on ventilators. Greene County averages more than 196 cases per day.

“CoxHealth and Mercy are projected to see additional hospitalizations in the coming weeks based on the rate of spread,” Towns said at a news conference on Wednesday. “That along with the increase in severe illness and low vaccination rates will cause the need for beds to outpace hospital capacity in the coming days.”

Towns said local hospitals need help as they continue to deal with the surge.

”We have a great concern for our communities and with this additional request it could help address the growing needs we’ll see over the coming weeks,” Mercy Springfield President Brent Hubbard said.

The requested help would allow for more bed space, but also help with staffing issues.

”Beds don’t take care of patients, people do,” CoxHealth President and CEO Steve Edwards said. “And so now our biggest strain is staff. People keep asking whether it’s a crisis. We deal in crisis every day, that’s the median that we work in, we manage crisis, we work in crisis. This is particularly intense. We’ll manage it but we are at our capacity right now, and we’re adding staff. We’ll get strong and better but I’m afraid this time in the curve we’re behind.”

Hospital leaders have repeatedly said their staff are feeling the strain.

”We have staff that are working seven or eight shifts in a row,” Hubbard said. “And 12 hour shifts at a time. That is taxing. Our death rate is taxing.”

Traveling nurses, physicians and respiratory therapists are also starting to make their way to the hospitals. While hospitals have sent some COVID patients out of the area for help, they also worry that may no longer be an option.

”We had other hospitals in our state that had capacity,” Edwards said. “They are filling up. And it won’t be long before there’s no capacity. And I think that will spread to other states very rapidly.”

The request would provide staffing for transitional care for COVID-19 patients. A location for this facility is still being determined.

In addition to the expanded inpatient facility, the request would:

  • Provide funding for staffing of additional beds for COVID patients in area hospitals
  • Increase the capacity for antibody treatment
  • Create a centralized location for patients awaiting long-term care placement
  • Offer shelter for unsheltered individuals who are COVID-19 positive
  • Expand mobile testing staff
  • Issue an emergency declaration to fund ambulance support for transfers
  • Extend state waivers for hospital capacity and use.

If approved, this resource will address the regional surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations and will be available to patients throughout the region.

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