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From left, Dr. Staci Rogers, Dr. Tim Jones, Max Buetow and Karen Kramer
Heather Mosley | SBJ
From left, Dr. Staci Rogers, Dr. Tim Jones, Max Buetow and Karen Kramer

2021 Health Care Champions Provider of the Year: CoxHealth

Posted online

CoxHealth has become a key fixture in the community during its 115-year history.

The area’s largest employer, according to Springfield Business Journal list research, served 337,500 patients in fiscal 2020 and recently instituted a minimum wage hike to  $15.25 per hour affecting thousands of employees.

“CoxHealth is an all-encompassing health care provider for people throughout the region. Since the health system’s start in 1906, growth and change has been a constant theme,” says spokesperson Kaitlyn McConnell. “While the overarching focus of 2020 and 2021 falls under one word – COVID – at CoxHealth, tremendous progress has been shown in a variety of ways, including through the rapid expansion of the system’s footprint across southwest Missouri, and efforts to prepare to serve the community how and when we are needed.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, CoxHealth has stepped up to the plate to help the community get back on track. Its development of a special COVID-19 ward at Cox South is one example, with donations of $700,000 from Prime Inc. and $200,000 from The Sunderland Foundation helping to fund it. Additionally, CEO Steve Edwards has appeared during recent months of the pandemic on national news to discuss the area’s response to the virus.

The health care system offers traditional care, such as primary and pediatric, and recent technical advancements have made virtual visits commonplace.

“Currently, patients located anywhere within the state of Missouri are able to have a virtual visit with a health care provider for a flat fee, regardless of insurance,” McConnell says. “This technology has also been implemented in around 50 schools in 23 districts across the region, including Springfield Public Schools, allowing students – and in some districts, staff – to be seen by a provider without leaving the walls of the school.”

To better serve the region, CoxHealth has been in development mode with $37 million in investments for so-called “super clinics,” which provide multiple types of health care in one place. One such clinic is under development at Battlefield Road and U.S. Highway 65 in Springfield, and facilities in Nixa, Ozark and Republic have been completed. Last year, the organization opened a new $42 million hospital in Monett, as well.

Officials say patient care is at the heart of what the health care system does every day.

“We have constantly evolved to meet the needs of our community and live up to our mission, vision and values, which lead all we do,” McConnell says.

CoxHealth also is in the education business, as Cox College teaches the next generation of health care workers.

The college underwent a $6.6 million renovation that was completed in 2020, a project tied to approval from the Missouri State Board of Nursing to increase the student cap to 400 from 250.

The college in 2017 launched a night and weekend associate of science in nursing program, which expanded in 2021 with a satellite campus in Monett. A mental health nurse practitioner program was added in 2018, and partnerships with Drury University and Ozarks Technical Community College boost its education efforts.

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