Ambulance strike teams arrive in southwest Missouri; Greene Co. health leaders weigh in on state’s COVID-19 response

“We have pushed our health care system and the United States to its absolute breaking point.” said Clay Hobbs with Pafford Medical Services.
Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 8:00 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 23, 2021 at 10:10 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Missouri state leaders have sent ambulance strike teams over to Springfield from Arkansas as COVID-19 continues to surge throughout southwest Missouri.

Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday the state would provide new resources in Springfield and Greene County, including ambulance strike teams and monoclonal antibody infusion facility.

“We are thankful for these medical professionals and the assistance they will provide in Southwest Missouri. We will continue to do all we can to support the Springfield area and surrounding communities as we experience this increase in COVID-19 spread,” said Gov. Parson.

The new Springfield-Greene County Health Department director, Katie Towns, is hopeful that help from the state will help the community fight through the rise in cases.

“We have a new antibody infusion site over at Jordan Valley Community Health Center where people who have COVID and are diagnosed and need that treatment as prescribed by a clinician can then take part in those infusion treatments over at that facility. The new facility will help offload some of the patient volume from the hospitals,” said Towns.

Ambulance strike teams from Arkansas arrived late Thursday and early Friday morning to immediately help with patient transfers.

“We have ambulance transport help and that will help to facilitate transfers or to help with additional SMS provider capability in our community,” said Towns.

Pafford Emergency Services arrived Friday morning in Springfield. Their crews are planning on staying for the next two weeks, according to Pafford.

“We are here to assist the ambulance providers in the hospitals because the governor of Missouri made an emergency request through a mutual aid compact, and the state of Arkansas accepted that request. We have dispatched 10 advanced life support ambulances to assist ambulance services and hospitals here in southwest Missouri,” said Clay Hobbs with Pafford Emergency Services.

Clay Hobbs explained that this is the worst COVID-19 surge they have seen.

“We are definitely experiencing some of the worst COVID surge in our region of the United States not only here in Missouri, but also in Arkansas, and now in Oklahoma. It is definitely something that we need to keep our eye on because it’s going to get much worse before it gets better,” said Hobbs.

The health department also explained that the county is implementing additional testing sites provided by the state.

“We have also been told that we are going to have additional testing capacity come in to Springfield and Greene County. These sites will help because our lab as well as the hospital labs have had an increase in testing demand,” said Towns.

Greene County’s vaccination rate is still below 50%, but Towns told KY3 more people are getting vaccinated after seeing family members affected first hand.

“We have definitely seen the impact from the stories that are shared among friends and family of ones being sick. People are not wanting to see their friends and family in the hospital, and that has motivated people to get vaccinated,” said Towns.

Right now, the county’s vaccination rate is 41.09% according to the health department’s website. Towns says it’s still not where they want it to be.

“We have recently seen an increase in the numbers, but it is not as high as we want it to be. We still need see more people in volume to be vaccinated,” said Towns.

The health department is anticipating the peak to continue and is grateful for the resources the state has provided.

“I don’t think that we will see that the peak of the illness in the hospitals will be for another few weeks. We are appreciative of this and for the support we are starting to receive. The support will absolutely be necessary to get us through this next month or so,” said Towns.

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