Springfield, MO

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Mercy Hospital Springfield currently has more than 100 COVID-19-positive patients.
SBJ file photo
Mercy Hospital Springfield currently has more than 100 COVID-19-positive patients.

Mercy goes virtual to aid with COVID overload

Posted online

Last edited 1:24 p.m., Dec. 3, 2020

Mercy Hospital Springfield is utilizing the health care system's virtual service to help reduce an overload of in-house COVID-19 patients.

The health care system yesterday announced Mercy Virtual would be utilized for coronavirus-positive patients who have mild symptoms, according to a news release. Mercy and other health systems have struggled with space issues as the virus pushes hospitalization rates.

“We have learned that not all patients who were admitted at the onset of COVID-19 need to be hospitalized,” said Dr. Carter Fenton, medical director of Mercy Virtual vAcute, the system's digital critical access service, in the release. “By caring for select patients at home, with ongoing monitoring and management, we can reserve the hospital beds for those with more serious disease symptoms.”

Mercy spokesperson Sonya Kullmann said the Queen City hospital this morning had 103 COVID-19-positive patients and 130 in the Springfield community who are being seen virtually. The hospital is working to transition another unit for COVID care and add more negative pressure space in the emergency room, she said.

Kullmann said the hospital currently does not have a cap on the number of COVID-19 patients it can have at one time.

"We’re determined to care for our community, whether they’re battling COVID-19 or have a heart attack or are in a car accident," she said via email. "We’re continuing to ask the community to do what they can to help us by masking and staying at home when possible.

"This new program is another way we can ensure we have enough bed capacity for those who need to be hospitalized."

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department's COVID-19 dashboard shows 277 currently hospitalized in the county as of this morning. There have been more than 15,640 confirmed cases and 216 deaths in Greene County, according to the dashboard.

CoxHealth President and CEO Steve Edwards yesterday tweeted that the health care system had 163 currently admitted COVID-19 patients in Greene and other area counties.

Separately, the Health Department yesterday announced an adjustment to quarantine timeframes in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

The guidance calls on quarantine to be shortened to seven days following a negative COVID-19 test result or to 10 days without a test, according to a news release. The change reflects evidence of a reduced risk of getting sick in the late days of quarantine, officials say.

“A key component of public health practice is constantly reviewing emerging data and information and using that evidence to make decisions,” Health Department Director Clay Goddard said in the release. “Our hope is that this change balances protecting the public’s health, which will always be our top priority, with allowing people to return to life in a way we feel comfortable with, based on solid data.”’


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