Howell County, Mo. hospital briefly cares for patient that later tests positive for COVID-19

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Mo. -- Earlier this week the local hospital briefly treated a patient that later tested positive for the coronavirus.

The patient came from Carter County earlier in the week and was taken to the Emergency Department at Mercy St. Francis. The hospital's Administrator tells KY3 the patient was only in the hospital for a few hours before being transported to Springfield where they did test positive for COVID-19.

"EMS notified us that they were bringing a patient in that was a potential COVID-19 patient," Administrator Cindy Weatherford told KY3.

For many weeks, Mercy St. Francis has been preparing for such a call.

The hospital's Administrator, Cindy Weatherford, says the staff's teamwork made all the difference.

"They put on all their personal protective equipment, just as they have been taught, through this process of preparation. They did a fantastic job taking care of the patient so that our coworkers and none of our visitors were at risk during the time," Weatherford added.

The patient was in an Emergency department room away from other patients and was only at the hospital for a few hours according to Weatherford.

After the patient was transferred, Weatherford says staff thoroughly cleaned the room the patient was in.

"We're taking all those precautions to make sure everybody will be safe when they come in our doors," Weatherford said.

Precautions, like screening visitors as they enter the hospital.

Weatherford says right now, the hospital is fully staffed and is in good shape with personal protective equipment.

"So we're fully stocked and our team has all been trained on which PPE is appropriate for which situation so that we're taking really good caution to make sure we're using that appropriately when we're taking care of patients," she explained.

With the hospital postponing elective surgeries and certain visitor restrictions in place, the hospital isn't nearly as crowded.

Weatherford says that allows the staff to be ready for a possible surge in patients, if the virus continues to spread communally.

"We're putting together contingency plans so that we're prepared. So we know if we get a surge of patients here, we'll be prepared with whatever staff we need at that time. You know, it's really nice to apart of that health system because we know we can help get coverage from Springfield if needed or some of our other hospitals that we share," she said.

As healthcare workers battle the virus on the front lines, they want the public to take care of themselves and follow healthcare guidelines.

"Stay at home for us and we'll be here for you."

According to the Howell County Health Department, as of 10 am Thursday, March 26th, 84 tests for the virus have been conducted in Howell County. 36 of those tests were negative, zero have come back positive and 48 are still pending results.