West Plains, Mo. healthcare workers stressed by COVID-19 surge

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 7:27 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2021 at 8:32 PM CDT
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WEST PLAINS, Mo. (KY3) - Healthcare workers deal with illness and death every day. Dealing with COVID-19 is different.

“With this we have warnings,” said Lacey Carter, director of nursing at Ozarks Healthcare. “We have ways to keep people safe, we just need them to actively participate.”

Carter said as of Monday, July 19, Ozarks Healthcare reported 22 COVID-19, patients. Some critical, more than half under the age of 65. Most of them have not received vaccinations, she said.

“Definitely the very sick ones, the ones in our ICU, the ones that are dying,” Carter said, referring to patients who had not been vaccinated.

Carter says so far the staff is keeping up, but they’re tired. She’s worried that if COVID-19 cases keep going up, the hospital will become completely overwhelmed.

“It wears on you,” said Carter. “Especially on the ones that are the most empathetic, when family members come in to say their last goodbyes. Or, when the family members don’t want to come in and see and we’re the ones holding a patient’s hand in their last moments, it’s not easy.

Dr. Prisicilla Frase, M.D., a hospitalist at Ozarks Healthcare, agrees.

“The most recent death that I’ve personally seen was very hard,” said Dr. Frase. “It was a lot,” she said choking up. “Coding somebody and not being able to get them back, and knowing that they, and their family all had COVID, and wondering if it was going to impact other family members the same way. I can’t really talk about it more than that, because it was an emotional event for me.”

Dr. Frase says misinformation on social media about the pandemic and vaccines is not helping the situation.

“In reading what’s out there, I can totally understand why they believe it,” said Frase, “Because bits and pieces of real information are being skewed to a point of view that may not be based in fact.”

One good bit of news is area pharmacies are seeing an increase in the number of people coming in for vaccinations. At Ozarks Healthcare Pharmacy, they were averaging about 15 vaccinations a week. Last week, they gave more than 100.

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