Mercy Springfield, CoxHealth report slight drop in COVID-19 patients

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Updated: Aug. 26, 2021 at 5:05 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - After several weeks of rising COVID-19 hospitalizations over the summer, hospitals around Springfield and southwest Missouri are starting to see some relief near the end of August.

Mercy Springfield and CoxHealth, the two major health systems of the Springfield metropolitan area, have both seen declines in COVID-19 patients over the past week.

Erik Frederick, the Chief Administrative Officer of Mercy Springfield, says the hospital is now treating its lowest number of COVID-19 patients since mid-June.

Mercy Hospital says it is treating 109 COVID-19 patients as of Thursday, but only 64 are considered infectious. Compared to last week, the hospital was treating 121 virus patients on Aug. 18, including 78 who were considered infectious.

The newest data shows nearly a 10% drop in patients and 18% drop in infected patients at Mercy Springfield over the past week. Frederick credits more vaccinations for the recent drop in patients.

“While keeping an eye on current state we look forward to the fall and what may be on the horizon,” said Frederick via Twitter on Wednesday. “Be part of our planning effort. Get vaccinated. It’s a selfless act.”

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department reports that 46.32% of its population eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine has been fully vaccinated. Health leaders say 40% of people in Greene County were fully vaccinated in mid-July.

Meanwhile, CoxHealth facilities around southwest Missouri have also seen a drop in COVID-19 patients.

Steve Edwards, the CEO and President of CoxHealth, reports that the health system was treating 140 COVID-19 patients as of Wednesday. CoxHealth sites were treating 165 virus patients on Aug. 19, marking a 15% decrease in hospitalizations over the past week.

Edwards notes the positivity rate is also trending down with a rolling average of 16.9% reported Wednesday.

Among virus patients currently seeking treatment, more than 80% are from outside of Greene County. Edwards says CoxHealth sites are treating the same number of Taney County residents compared to Greene County residents.

As patients have started to decrease, CoxHealth has helped several out-of-state patients, some from as far as Alabama. Edwards said CoxHealth hospitals may face new challenges, even as local patients begin to decrease.

“It’s likely that southwest Missouri will tend to start to descend the number of cases, but then we’ll have the pressure of other areas around us that are advancing and needing a place,” Edwards told KY3 on Aug. 13. “As we look for relief for our staff, even if our area cools, we worry about how to manage this expectation on our staff, as other states heat up.”

The latest drops in local hospitalizations come after an active summer from CoxHealth, Mercy Springfield and local health leaders. Experts say the Delta variant peaked in southwest Missouri in early July.

During that time, Mercy Springfield requested more ventilators, while CoxHealth had to recruit respiratory therapists and traveling nurses. Missouri health leaders also sent ambulance strike teams and monoclonal antibody infusion facility in response, but never approved a request for an alternate care site to help with an overflow of patients.

As of Monday, Mercy Springfield and CoxHealth are both requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff members following the region’s mid-summer surge in cases and hospitalizations.

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