Springfield's two major hospitals plead for no more "Pokemon GO" on grounds

Published: Jul. 13, 2016 at 10:05 PM CDT
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They're everywhere: people searching for imaginary creatures with the new "Pokemon GO" app. As part of the game, players venture out into the real world to collect animated characters.

"Downtown has a lot and MSU. I went to Grizzly at 3 a.m. this morning. A little mini golf place and I did go to the cemetery," said "Pokemon GO" player Jordan Williams.

But there's one place Williams hasn't been--a hospital. Both Cox and Mercy would like to keep it that way.

Cox Health has already asked a handful of people--who showed up to simply play the game--to leave.

Mercy is also a hot spot. "It's a little crazy to think there are virtual monsters around, but we hope they leave soon," explained Tonya Marion, the Regional Vice President of Human Resources.

Gamers are drawn to Mercy because there are several Poke-stops, which means real locations where players can grab animated items. A statue of the Lord is a Poke-stop, and it's at a quiet location on the grounds where people go to pray.

"For those visitors that are here for that reason, it's definitely a distractor for them and doesn't allow them to have the peace and quiet and serenity that we would want from this area," Marion said.

The hospital is not only asking J.Q. Public to cease. On Wednesday morning, Mercy emailed employees telling them to immediately stop playing "Pokemon GO" on all its campuses. The note stated it was disruptive to the mission of caring for people.

While neither hospital has reported anyone coming in with injures from playing, gamers admit they've had some close calls. "I've tripped over stuff; I walked into doors, and yesterday I ran across 4 lanes of traffic," said Brittany Morris

Incidentally, guests waiting for appointments or visiting patients at Mercy can continue to play.