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Hospitals in rural parts of the Ozarks are also seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 10:26 PM CST
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LEBANON, Mo. (KY3) - Hospitals across rural parts of the Ozarks say they are also seeing a rise in COVID-19 patients once again.

Mercy Hospital in Lebanon says the influx of cases can come with challenges, but the hospital says it is expecting the number of COVID patients to get worse before it gets better.

Right now Mercy Hospital in Lebanon has 10 COVID-19 patients. That might not seem like a lot compared to the 193 total hospitalizations in Greene County, but the hospital says 10 is actually a little concerning.

”For us, that’s a very high number as a small facility,” said Mercy Hospital Lebanon Administrator Nicki Gamet. “So those are numbers that we really saw during the peak of COVID. And looking at the projections that those can increase, it really has us concerned.”

Six of Mercy Lebanon’s COVID patients are in the ICU. The hospital said the county’s low vaccination rate might have something to do with the spike.

”Here in Laclede County, about 35% of the public is vaccinated,” Gamet said. “So with those lower numbers of vaccination, we are seeing patients that are un-vaccinated, you know, be admitted and are more ill.”

Gamet said the county has seen a drastic increase in cases, nearly 254 new cases just in the last 11 days she said. Doctors and nurses are not the only ones busy at the hospital.

”It’s also our lab staff or respiratory therapists,” she said. “It’s really affects everyone in the hospital to take care of the rising number of patients, but they’re doing it.”

It’s also not just COVID patients keeping the hospital busy.

“When you have large amounts of COVID patients coming into our ED, it doesn’t stop all the other patients that need care as well,” Gamet said. “And so that does put a strain on our emergency departments and on our inpatient departments. And that’s why we triage patients trying to take those higher level of care patients first.”

The hospital said it too occasionally experiences long wait times because of this. Gamet suggests urgent care or walk-in clinics if you are experiencing something a little less severe. She said that can help reduce those long waits.

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