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Springfield hospitals transitioning more units for COVID-19 patient care

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Two hospitals in Springfield are working to accommodate the growing number of COVID-19 patients being admitted for care.

“We’re in that surge that we saw on national TV in New York,” said Steve Edwards, president and CEO of CoxHealth. “This is what it looks like in Springfield.”

“Our original projections, we thought we’d be at about 150 as a community sometime between this week and next week,” said Erik Fredrick, chief administrative officer at Mercy. “We’re there today.”

There are 80 patients with COVID-19 at Cox and 70 at Mercy, a new threshold reached in Springfield hospitals.

Fredrick says Mercy is transitioning a fourth and maybe a fifth unit to handle patients.

“Every patient that takes a COVID bed, that’s a bed that’s potentially taken away from someone who may meet some other health care need,” said Fredrick.

Edwards says three-fourths of patients at Cox are from outside Greene County. The hospital is also in the process of building more beds.

“By the end of November, we will have added 111 beds just at Cox South,” said Edwards. “We have 36 more under construction right now, so that builds capacity.”

The deciding factor between adding COVID beds and having to scale back services again lies with having enough staff to care for all patients.

“We have the supplies, we have the medications, we have the rooms, we have those kinds of things to support these patients,” said Fredrick. “The challenge becomes then the staff to put with those beds.”

“We do not intend to shut down,” said Edwards. “We do not intend to reduce procedures because the consequences of that might be even greater than COVID.”

Edwards says Cox may end up in a position where it will have to send patients somewhere else. He’s asking rural hospitals to keep COVID-19 patients if they can.

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