Doctors, nurses travel to Springfield to help amid surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 8:08 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield-Greene County Health Department reported 405 new COVID-19 cases Thursday among Greene County residents, the most in a single day since January.

Right now, 230 people are hospitalized in Springfield with the disease and 99 of those are in critical care units. As Springfield-area hospitals see a surge in COVID-19 patients, doctors and nurses are coming to Springfield from other towns to help with the care.

Mercy doctor Melinda Miller traveled to Springfield from St. Louis. Dr. Miller volunteered to help because she says her colleagues are burned out.

“It takes a physical toll on you,” Dr. Miller says. “A mental toll definitely. You are unable to rest at night as you would normally. You just feel exhausted, and I don’t know how these people do it here because they’re so overwhelmed.”

Dr. Melinda Miller is taking care of patients in the COVID-19 intensive care unit. Dr. Miller says all of her patients are on ventilators and some of them have been for nearly two weeks.

“Nobody came off the ventilator and I don’t have any sight in my mind that they can come off the ventilator anytime soon,” Dr. Miller says. “These patients just keep coming. They’re filling up the ICU’s and they’re really not leaving anytime soon.”

It’s the sickest group of COVID-19 patients Dr. Miller says she has seen.

“It feels a little bit like a war zone in all honesty,” Dr. Miller says. “You’re in combat. People who are outside combat they can’t realize what’s going on in the war field.”

Lynn Surber went to Mercy and Cox in Springfield, as well as Cox in Branson, to pray for the coronavirus patients. For her, it’s personal. Surber says a family friend is in the hospital with COVID-19 and in serious condition. She says he’s only 36 years old.

Surber says her faith called her into action.

“Woke up and asked the Lord what am I gonna do,” Surber says. “What should we do? And He kind of let me know that I needed to go to the hospital and actually pray while I’m there.”

Dr. Miller says it’s just a matter of time before the dangerous delta variant swarms other parts of Missouri.

Of the 230 people hospitalized in Springfield, less than half actually live in Greene County.

“I assume at some point it’s going to be triage,” Dr. Miller says. “I assume there’s not going to be enough just physical personnel to take care of these patients so more people are going to die.”

That’s why Dr. Miller is continuing to urge people to get vaccinated.

“In my mind, it kind of becomes one of those preventable diseases at this point because there is a vaccine,” Dr. Miller says. “The vaccine works and people just don’t realize that COVID kills and how sick people can become from COVID.”

Dr. Miller goes back to Mercy St. Louis on Sunday.

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