‘A sad new record’: Springfield hospital treats record number of coronavirus patients

·4 min read

On Sunday morning, healthcare workers at CoxHealth in Springfield were busy treating 187 coronavirus patients, one hospital executive said. It was the most yet.

CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards called the total, which broke a record set just the day before, “a sad new record.”

“Please consider vaccinating as a civic responsibility-to protect others, to protect children, to protect our community,” Edwards wrote on Twitter Sunday morning.

On Saturday, Edwards wrote on social media that the hospital had 180 inpatients battling the coronavirus, which at the time was a new record.

About eight weeks ago, there were 28 patients, he wrote. In the past two months, the deaths from the coronavirus increased from 446 to 560.

“I can’t understand the motivations of people disparaging healthcare providers and diminishing the reality of this pandemic,” Edwards tweeted as health officials continue urging Missourians to get vaccinated as the more aggressive delta variant has continued to add to recent spikes in infections and deaths.

In Greene County, where Springfield is located, 42.5% of the population has initiated vaccination and 36.2% has completed the vaccination process. Statewide, 48.1% of the population has initiated the vaccine and 41.3% has completed it, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

In the past week, 887 more people tested positive for COVID-29 in Greene County, according to state data. Increasingly, hospitals are admitting children with the virus.

On Thursday, more than 300 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 across the two health systems in Springfield including three patients under age 10.

That day, there were 145 COVID-19 patients at Mercy Springfield, according to chief administrative officer Erik Frederick. Five of those patients were under the age of 20 and three were under age 10.

Ninety-three percent of the patients were unvaccinated.

Later Friday, Frederick said Mercy had 130 COVID-19 patients. Six were children, including four under age 10.

There were 168 COVID-19 patients at CoxHealth, Edwards said Friday. Three patients were 19 or younger.

Unsettled. Frustrated. Changed? Tell us about your experience in the new COVID-19 wave

CoxHealth brought in temporary cooling equipment because at least 75 patients died in July at its hospital in Springfield and other system hospitals in the region, Edwards said at a news conference Wednesday.

He also said the health system brought in about 200 traveling nurses and respiratory therapists, with about 60 more scheduled to arrive a short time later. But they still had to transfer some patients outside the strained southwest Missouri region.

Edwards on Tuesday said new projections show cases would peak in the next week or two, earlier than originally predicted, because the incubation period for the delta variant that makes up most of the new cases is so fast.

“I hope that is the case,” he said, adding. “It feels like every day we are at or near capacity.”

Brent Hubbard, Mercy Springfield’s chief operating officer, said in late July that vaccinations are key to stopping the virus’ spread. Some people are heeding his advice.

One of Mercy Springfield’s sites saw the number of people seeking the vaccine each day rise from 150 to 250, Hubbard said last week, urging more people to follow their lead.

“Please spare your family the heartbreak that we are seeing in our hallways every day,” he said.

In mid-July, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced a vaccine incentive program with $10,000 prizes for 900 lottery winners to encourage residents to at least get one dose of the vaccine against COVID-19.

In Springfield, vaccine clinics for students age 12 and up will be held Aug. 3 and Aug. 5 at Hammons Field. Students who get a vaccine will get two free tickets to that night’s baseball game.

Vaccine information can be found at vaccines.gov.

The Star’s Katie Moore and the Associated Press contributed.

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