Hospital Faces Ventilator Shortage Amid Virus Hospitalization Surge

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Harry Wilmerding Contributor
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Missouri hospitals saw a surge in COVID-19 cases over the July 4 weekend, which caused a ventilator shortage, according to hospital officials, the Associated Press reported. 

CoxHealth and Mercy Springfield have treated 213 COVID-19 patients as of Monday, which is up from 169 on Friday, according to the APThe surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations is partially due to the low vaccination rate in the neighboring counties around Springfield. 

The majority of COVID-19 cases in the Springfield area have been the new Delta variant, leading to increased hospital admissions, CoxHealth spokesperson Kaitlyn McConnell told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Only 29.3% of residents in one of Springfield’s neighboring counties have had their first round of vaccinations, compared to the state rate of 44.7% and the national rate of 54.7%, according to the AP. 

“After what we’ve seen in the last month, everyone is just holding their breath, especially after a holiday weekend like this, knowing that there were large gatherings,” Chief Administrative Officer of Mercy Springfield, Erik Frederick, told the AP. 

“We put one right into service, and we have about 14 on standby right now. When we look at our census of 115 patients, about 85 of those patients right now are on some kind of mechanical ventilation support. That’s pretty scary,” said Frederick.

The ventilator shortage is so dire, Frederick asked over Twitter for respiratory therapists to contact the hospital.

CoxHealth saw a considerable spike in COVID-19 patients but did not need additional ventilators, McConnell told the DCNF.

“We are distressed by the high number of hospitalizations throughout southwest Missouri related to COVID-19,” she said. 

“At CoxHealth, this number remained around 100 for the last week. We are currently at 94 inpatients with COVID across our system,” McConnell said.

CoxHealth has experienced a nurse shortage causing the hospital to transfer patients, McConnell said. (RELATED: Fauci Warns There Will Be ‘Two Americas’- Vaccinated And Unvaccinated)

“While we have ample supplies and space to care for additional patients, staffing remains a challenge,” she said.

“At our high of around 170 COVID patients last winter, we had approximately 280 traveling staff to help augment our workforce. The lower number of hands available to help is coupled with higher volumes in other areas of the health system, which we are committed to continuing so other critical patient care is not again deferred,” McConnell told the DCNF.

CoxHealth is working to bring back traveling nurses and hire additional staff but is facing challenges as travelers are usually unavailable during this time of year, McConnell told the DCNF. At least 12 patients were temporarily transferred from CoxHealth to nearby hospitals until the hospital could hire more staff.

COVID-19 cases are projected to increase throughout the summer, according to Frederick.

“Unfortunately we are living in a region where the vaccine has not been adopted. It has not been accepted and here we are with hospitals full of COVID patients,” Frederick said.

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