Nate Blackford FB

Nate Blackford

President of Mosaic Medical Center - Maryville

A cautionary tale is used to help the reader avoid potential danger. In that spirit, I would like to share with you details of what is happening just 260 miles to our south.

Missouri currently leads the nation in new COVID-19 cases per capita and Springfield is the hot spot. The two largest hospitals in the community, CoxHealth and Mercy, are stretched to their limits. Mercy has been forced to borrow ventilators from other organizations to keep up with the demand. CoxHealth has found it necessary to transfer patients to other hospitals around the state to ensure they do not become overrun.

During the past two weeks, they collectively have seen a 27 percent increase in COVID-related hospitalizations.

According to Erik Frederick, Mercy’s Chief Administrative Officer, “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.” On July 2, he posted the following on Twitter. “It’s 4th of July weekend. We gained our independence by fighting together against a common enemy. We’re not each other’s enemy. COVID is. The only weapon we have is vaccination. Please get one and join the fight.”

Steve Edward, CEO of CoxHealth, took his comments one step further. “If you are making wildly disparaging comments about the vaccine, and have no public health expertise, you may be responsible for someone’s death.”

So, what is causing the spike? Low vaccination rates and the spread of the Delta variant seem to be the most likely culprits.

So why tell the story of Springfield? Because we have much in common (unfortunately). In northwest Missouri, vaccination rates remain low and the Delta variant has been discovered in the region. Broadly, public health officials are concerned we could be the next hot spot.

As of the time of this writing, Mosaic has 37 COVID patients in the hospital across the system. Of those in the hospital, 50 percent are under the age of 45 and five are on ventilators. It’s important to note, just a few short weeks ago we had zero COVID patients in the hospital after a high-water mark of 100-plus during the winter months. We are clearly seeing a second spike of sorts.

So how can you help? Choose to be vaccinated. Encourage your friends and family to get vaccinated. The vaccine remains our best weapon.

I know we are all “done with COVID.” However, we need to remain vigilant. The virus remains a real threat to the health and wellbeing of many in our community.