July 9, 2021
Unfortunately, the local reality of COVID-19 continues to become more severe. We are currently at more than 100 inpatients in our system.
This number would be higher, but due to staffing levels, some patients have been diverted to other health systems across the region over the past few weeks. However, these hospitals, in places like Kansas City and St. Louis, are also beginning to fill. This week, the closest location that would accept a patient from us at a particular time was Dallas. While the realities of “divert” are fluid, and locations may be able to accept patients at one point in time but not the next, this is concerning. Our fundamental message remains: vaccination. While it does not eliminate all disease, it keeps the vast majority of patients from requiring hospitalization, and prevents severe illness and death.
A silver lining in the storm came this week when 60 Respiratory Therapists answered a call for help and reached out about serving at CoxHealth during this time. We are also aggressively working to hire more staff in many areas of the health system to keep up.
National news outlets continue their attention on Springfield. Over the last few weeks, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post and many other national, regional and local news outlets have put their focus on southwest Missouri because of the rising number of cases. We are speaking to many of them in an effort to warn the rest of the country about what is happening here. This is not unique to this region: It can happen in any area with low vaccination rates and the Delta variant.
Employee vaccinations for COVID-19
This week, we shared information with our employees and the public regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. So you are aware, here is our position at this time:
At this point in time, CoxHealth does not require COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.
COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be highly efficacious and safe, can save lives, and end this pandemic. We strongly advocate for their use. However, we understand that many in our community are hesitant to become vaccinated, including some employees.
It appears likely the Emergency Use Authorization, under which vaccines are currently available, may be removed shortly. A decision on the EUA status will further inform our decision about mandating vaccines, and we are hopeful that those that are hesitant may gain further confidence in the vaccine if full approval is granted. Meanwhile, we continue to follow the most strenuous CDC guidelines to assure we have a safe place to work and receive care.
We will share more in the coming weeks if/when this changes.
New Interim Associate Chief Medical Officer
I am pleased to announce Dr. Tom Trent is being promoted to Interim Associate Chief Medical Officer for CoxHealth. In his new role, which is effective Monday, July 12, Dr. Trent will work with providers and leadership from each CoxHealth campus to help drive quality and safety.
Dr. Trent has a long connection with CoxHealth, having started his career in the Cox South ED in 2009. He transitioned to the Monett Emergency Department in 2013 where he has served as ED director, as well as past Medical Staff President. In his time at Cox Monett, he also served as director of urgent care and Monett’s Time Critical Diagnosis program. I congratulate him on this promotion, and am excited to see his leadership in this position.
Voice of the Patient
From patient feedback: “The staff listen but, most importantly, I feel that they were hearing what I was saying.”
Thank you for all you do,