Springfield hospitals still sending patients to other cities, Columbia takes CoxHealth patients this week

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KY3) – The latest city to offer a helping hand as Springfield hospitals deal with an overflow of COVID-19 patients is Columbia, Missouri.

CoxHealth sites in southwest have sent 10 COVID-19 patients over to MU Health Care in Columbia. Eric Maze with MU Health Care says their hospitals in Columbia have helped more than 20 patients transferred from Springfield and Branson since the start of June.

“During this pandemic, we are partnering with other health care institutions across the state to ensure Missouri patients are provided the best care possible,” said Maze.

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The help comes as the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services declares Greene County is a hot spot for new and growing COVID-19 cases, largely due to the spread of the Delta variant and low vaccination rates.

More than 228 COVID-19 patients are getting treatment at Greene County hospitals as of Sunday, according to the health department. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department just announced Thursday that 40% of Greene County residents, who qualify based on age, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Even though Columbia is taking patients from outside its metropolitan region, their health leaders are still are making sure they manage room to provide proper care and service to their own residents in need, including their primary county in Boone County.

“While we are accepting patients from other hospitals, we are careful to ensure there is space available for anyone in our service area who might require inpatient care,” said Maze.

Right now hospitals in Boone County are considered to be in the “yellow status” zone. According to the Boone County COVID-19 information hub, the yellow status means, “Delaying non-emergency patient transfers from referring hospitals due to capacity for greater than two and delaying non-urgent procedures and operations to provide additional inpatient capacity.”

Boone County hospitals are treating 85 total COVID-19 patients as of July 16, but only 24 are county residents, according to health leaders. When looking at active case rates, Boone County currently has 614 active cases and Greene County has 3,759 cases.

In Greene County, the Delta variant is spreading more rapidly and affecting younger age groups, leading to recent hospital transfers in Columbia.

“Our team is getting really tired and the patients we are seeing hospitalized are the ones who are not vaccinated. We are seeing a lot younger patients now being hospitalized too,” said Ashley Kimberling Casad VP of clinical services for CoxHealth.

In just a span of a little over two weeks, 55 additional people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Greene County, which is a concerning spike. Health leaders say the current levels are close to what Greene County hospitals dealt with last winter.

Greene County Health leaders continue to push for vaccinations after recent hospital transfers.

“Our vaccination rates being low is obviously creating a lot of hospitalizations for us. We very rarely see the break through cases of people who’ve been vaccinated that are hospitalized. Almost all the people that we see in our hospital have not been vaccinated. I hope that we will see that vaccination rates continue to go up in the coming months,” said Casad.

Larger cities like Kansas City, St. Louis, and Northern Arkansas have also treated patients from the Springfield area in previous weeks.

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