Published on December 16, 2020

Tom Keller, Ozarks Healthcare President and CEO, provides December Update on Hospital COVID-19 Visitor Policies, COVID-19 Vaccinations, and New COVID-19 Care Unit 

The following statement was made from Tom Keller, Ozarks Healthcare President and CEO, on December 16, 2020:


Today I want to share a few updates on behalf of our organization as we head into the final days of 2020.

For all of us, the holiday season is usually a time to gather and celebrate the spirit of togetherness. While this holiday season will look different due to COVID-19, we ask you to first and foremost to help us continue our fight against the virus by following recommended guidelines for gatherings, wearing masks, and protecting the most vulnerable in our community.

As always, we remain focused on the health of our patients, residents, visitors, and coworkers. Your well-being is our priority.

That being said, we recognize your health includes more than physical aspects. Your mental health is just as important, and there are many factors that contribute to your mental well-being. Even before COVID-19, the holidays were already difficult for some. Now, the limitations on seeing loved ones during COVID-19 will undoubtedly lead to an even more difficult season for some of our patients. To help with the overall health of our patients during the holidays, we will be adjusting our current visitor policies.

Beginning Monday, December 21, we will adjust our hospital visitor hours from 4 to 6 p.m. to 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Only one daily visitor per patient during visitor hours will be allowed. Visitors will be escorted in a careful manner while on our campus. All visitors will still be required to check in and be screened before entering our facilities. This change will go into effect with the exception of our Neuro Psych Unit, which will have visiting hours from 3 to 4 p.m. each day. Again, only one daily visitor per patient during visitor hours will be allowed. 

Please know these policies are being adjusted with much research and will be conducted in a way that keeps everyone in our medical system and community safe.

Speaking of research, I want to share with you some of the planning efforts that are underway at Ozarks Healthcare in regards to the latest data surrounding COVID-19 vaccine availability.

Ozarks Healthcare is registered to become an official COVID-19 vaccination site once a vaccination becomes available to us. Both Pfizer and Moderna have requested Emergency Use Authorization for their COVID-19 vaccines. Due to minimum order restrictions on initial shipments, Pfizer will most likely be utilized in metro areas while the Moderna vaccine will be more available to rural healthcare centers. Per government regulations, the vaccine we receive will be administered to those working in healthcare, emergency services, nursing homes, and nursing home residents. We will then be able to make the vaccine available to more of our community, as we are allotted more vaccine doses.

While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all tools available to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic, such as covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least six feet away from others. Receiving a COVID-19 vaccination and following the CDC’s recommendations for protecting yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19.

More information will be shared once we know when Ozarks Healthcare will receive a vaccine.

I know so many of us are looking forward to what a new year holds. Our organization is especially excited about the expansion of some of our services and facilities we hope to share with our communities soon. Last month, we announced the opening of our new, 20,000 square foot Women’s Center. We expect the center to open to patients towards the end of December.

Our current OB will be converted to a COVID-19 Care Unit. This will allow for approximately 16 COVID-19 patients to be cared for in an isolated unit at our hospital.

Lastly, I want to extend our sincere thanks for continuing to allow us to provide compassionate care to you – our community – as we mark the final days of 2020. This year is not what any of us expected, but through practicing continued measures of safety and most importantly, compassion, we will move towards better days ahead together.

If you or a loved one are experiencing a psychiatric emergency or crisis, please know we have options available to help you cope and provide support. Our crisis hotline can be reached 24-hours a day, 7 days a week at 800-356-5395.
From all of us at Ozarks Healthcare to you, Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season.


Tom Keller
President and CEO
Ozarks Healthcare

Ozarks Healthcare is a system of care encompassing eight primary care and 17 specialty clinics, along with complete rehabilitation, behavioral healthcare, and home health services. While the 114-bed acute care hospital cares for more than 5,400 admissions, the entire health system has more than 364,000 patient visits annually in South Central Missouri and Northern Arkansas. For more information about Ozarks Healthcare, visit 

Tom Keller, Ozarks Healthcare President and CEO

Tom Keller, Ozarks Healthcare President and CEO

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