CoxHealth grapples with nurse staffing as COVID-19 census grows

CoxHealth had 280 traveling nurses during the last peak of COVID-19. Now the Springfield, Mo.-based system is down to 150 as it braces for a 50 percent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the next two weeks, according to the Springfield News-Leader.

Ashley Casad, vice president of clinical services for the six-hospital system, told the newspaper its facilities are seeing 18 new patients a day who need to be admitted because of COVID-19. Next week, that number is expected to rise to 24 a day, and 27 a day the week after that.

At the same time, CoxHealth is down 130 nurses compared to its staffing levels during the last COVID-19 surge in southwestern Missouri last winter. The system told the Springfield News-Leader it is aiming to add 65 nurses soon, although the specifics of that plan were not provided.

The hospital is waving its flag for reinforcements. Steve Edwards, CoxHealth's president and CEO, issued a public appeal for respiratory therapists to apply. In addition to nurses, the system's hospitals are low on surgical technologists and housekeeping and food services workers, according to the Springfield News-Leader

CoxHealth has been forced to transfer patients to hospitals in Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia because its staff cannot meet the demands of this COVID-19 surge. 

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