SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Craig McCoy, the president of Mercy Springfield Communities, explained the hospital’s plans to care for the influx of COVID-19 and other emergent patients.

Mercy Hospitals is using facilities all over Missouri to treat its patients in critical need of care. The healthcare system is still working with CoxHealth to make sure everyone gets the help they need.

Mercy said nursing staff is tight, and Cox is feeling this too. During the last COVID-19 surge, CoxHealth employees were joined by hundreds of traveling nurses and respiratory therapists who were dedicated to caring for COVID-19 patients.

Since traveling nurses are not needed, Cox only has a small number of people available to help. Mercy said it has agency staffing where it can call on nurses from other markets.

“We utilize our network of regional hospitals, our critical access hospitals in Mountain View, Aurora and Cassville,” said McCoy.

If the need grows, McCoy said there is a plan to use other Mercy buildings to carry out the treatment.

“We have a multi-face plan to open additional beds at some of our other facilities like our orthopedic hospital and others if we get pushed to that level of need,” said McCoy.

According to McCoy, there is a way the public can help keep other people out of critical care.

“The one thing that we have as a defense against COVID-19 is the vaccine,” said McCoy.

Only two out of the 74 COVID patients at Mercy are vaccinated.

Mercy said its seen an increase in the number of young patients with COVID in the ER. Additionally, roughly 50% of the healthcare system’s patients are coming from outside of Greene County.

“The amount of mortality we saw as a result of COVID, the amount of death our co-workers saw was nothing like they’ve ever anticipated,” said McCoy. “Nothing they ever signed up for in all reality, and so that takes a toll mentally.”

McCoy said it would take 2020’s COVID-19 numbers and more for it to go into a diversion.