Mosaic ER nurse

Katie Wilmes, RN at Mosaic Medical Center – Maryville works in the emergency room on Wednesday afternoon. Wilmes said she thinks it is always important to care for people, but “especially in a pandemic.” MMC-M President Nate Blackford told The Forum that 30 percent of Maryville’s current hospitalized patients have COVID-19.

MARYVILLE, Mo. — Mosaic Medical Center – Maryville President Nate Blackford told The Forum on Wednesday afternoon that the hospital is seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients, with 30 percent of the hospital’s currently admitted patients infected by the virus.

“We have seen a nearly doubling number of COVID positives month over month,” Blackford said. He noted that the 30 percent rate is consistent with numbers across the Mosaic system.

What they’ve noticed at the hospital is that a case tends to trend the same way. Within two to three days of exposure a person will believe they have symptoms and be tested. If positive, a person likely will experience the worst symptoms around day seven or eight. It’s days 10 through 14, that a person who tested positive for COVID-19 will typically seek hospitalization.

Blackford explained that there is a direct lag time from an increase in positive tests to an impact on hospital capacity.

“Flattening the curve was never really about total number of positive cases, but hospitalizations,” he said. “This leads us to believe we’ll see an increase in the next two weeks.”

He said the hospital is working to be flexible in its model for treatment. Staff installed temporary doors to isolate patients in the “med surge” unit. Those doors are mobile and can shift to allow for more patients in isolation or fewer based on needs.

Currently 30 percent of patients staying in the hospital have the virus, he said. Which means that 70 percent do not.

He said the hospital still has patients with heart attacks and strokes and they are still manageable with this level of COVID-19 care, but that it is necessary to “slow that trend.”

Blackford said being a part of the Mosaic Life Care system allows patients to be transferred from Maryville to Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph and to the unit in Albany, as need arises.

“It’s highly, highly contagious,” he said. “We know a lot more now than we did even a few months ago.”

He explained that it spreads more rapidly than once believed and that small gatherings can tend to increase transmission.

“It just multiplies on itself from 10 to 20,” he said. It’s when it reaches 100 that it can jump to 200 quickly.

“We are dealing with a larger baseline than we had been,” Blackford said.

With regard to Thanksgiving, he’s not to the point of telling people not to see family, but does suggest they use as many different safety precautions as possible: social distancing, masks and choosing settings that allow for space.

“The holidays are a break from our jobs and things we do,” he said. “COVID’s not going to take a break. … The only way to really stop COVID is a vaccine.”

Planning for future vaccine storage, Blackford said just this week the hospital installed a freezer unit capable of storing the two vaccines in the news lately, one from Moderna Inc. and one from Pfizer. Both vaccines require extreme cold storage.

He said that Mosaic is ready to receive a vaccine, and expects to begin receiving some doses near the end of the year, but the volume and patient priority is still unclear. He noted that having read about both clinical trials, he believes their effectiveness rates to be at 90 and 95 percent.

“The vaccines do provide some promise, some hope,” Blackford said.

While giving thanks next week, Blackford asks that people take the time to thank local caregivers.

“Our caregivers are tired, are weary, but they are committed to the patients in this community,” Blackford said. “They see things that most of the community doesn’t.”

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