Ozarks Healthcare sees All-Time High of COVID-19 Hospitalizations, reopens COVID-19 Unit, updates Visitor Restrictions
Ozarks Healthcare reached a new high of COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Thursday, July 29. As of today, there are a total of 33 patients positive with COVID-19 hospitalized within the health system. Patients range in age from 25 to 94. In response to the continued surge of hospitalizations and cases of COVID-19 in its service area, Ozarks Healthcare reopened Unit 2A, its COVID-19 unit, on Wednesday, July 28.
“We are entering month 18, and we are reopening our COVID-19 unit dedicated to patients with the virus again,” Lacey Carter, Executive Director of Nursing at Ozarks Healthcare, said. “We have more patients in our hospital with COVID-19 than ever before. Most are unvaccinated. Our nurses dedicated to our community our heartbroken. We are worried about the overall health of our community, but we are especially concerned for those who are unvaccinated,” Lacey Carter, Executive Director of Nursing at Ozarks Healthcare, said.
Ozarks Healthcare’s Unit 2A has been closed for several months due to a manageable census of COVID-19 patients hospitalized. Severely ill patients with COVID-19 will still be cared for in Ozarks Healthcare’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for now, while patients requiring less intense care will be housed in Unit 2A. This will help with space and efficiency of staff needing to provide constant COVID care around the clock.
Updated Visitor Restrictions
For the safety of staff, patients, and visitors as we face a continued surge of COVID-19, Ozarks Healthcare is updating its visitor restrictions, which will take effect Friday, July 30. Beginning Friday, each patient admitted to Ozarks Healthcare’s hospital will be permitted one visitor (18 years and older) per day. Visiting hours will be from noon to 8 p.m. Visitors will be screened at their point of entry and asked to wear a mask. Each visitor will be required to remain in the patient’s room at all times.
Exceptions to restrictions include:
- Emergency Department Patients: One visitor (18 years and older) is permitted per patient, with the exception of pediatric patients. Emergency Department visitors are not permitted to leave the room of the patient they are accompanying.
- End-of-life care: The patient’s clinical team can make exceptions at their discretion.
- Pediatric Patients: Up to two parents/guardians per pediatric patient are permitted. (This includes all patients under 18 years old.)
- Labor and Delivery and Postpartum: One support person for labor and delivery patients is permitted.
- Neuropsychiatric Unit: One visitor per patient will be permitted during the unit’s visiting hours. Visiting hours for neuropsychiatric patients will be from 3 to 4 p.m. daily.
- Clinics and Walk-in Locations: One visitor per patient is allowed to accompany patients.
Utilizing Ozarks Healthcare’s COVID-19 Testing, Walk-In Clinics, and Virtual/Telehealth Visits
To help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19, Ozarks Healthcare officials ask those who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or suspect they could have the virus to call its COVID-19 Hotline before visiting an Ozarks Healthcare clinic to be seen or tested. Symptoms of the prevalent Delta variant of COVID-19 include headache, runny nose, and sore throat. This is not an all-inclusive list. Other symptoms include a mild cough or shortness of breath. If you think you may need to be tested for COVID-19, please call 417-505-7120, and hotline staff will assist you in scheduling a test and making sure you receive care.
With an increase in Emergency Department visits, Ozarks Healthcare officials also encourage those who find themselves experiencing health issues that are acute enough to seek immediate care but are not life threatening to seek care at Ozarks Healthcare’s walk-in clinics. Ozarks Healthcare has two convenient walk-in locations in West Plains (181 Kentucky Ave. (Highland Park), Suite 100) and Mountain Grove (500 E. 19th St.). Both walk-in clinics have resources to treat common but not critical health problems, including minor fractures and sprains, infections (urinary tract, ear, etc.), sore throats, minor cuts, wounds, burns, and scrapes, muscle pains, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, and more.
Both clinics are open daily. Ozarks Healthcare’s West Plains Walk-In Clinic is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the Mountain Grove Walk-In Clinic is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Virtual and telehealth visits are also available for patients wanting to adhere to social distancing or needing to be seen while ill with COVID-19 at home. A telehealth visit is a high-quality audio visit allowing you to speak with your provider in a secure and personal way over the phone.
“While COVID-19 is a serious disease that should be monitored closely, not everyone requires emergency or hospital care while sick with the virus,” Todd Tamalunas, Vice President of the Ozarks Healthcare Medical Group, said. “Ozarks Healthcare is fortunate to have providers in our rural locations who are committed to protecting the health of our communities while monitoring them closely in a safe manner during the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual visits allow us to see our patients who are experiencing mild sickness with COVID-19, along with those who simply may feel more at ease staying home.”
If you would like to inquire about a virtual visit, please contact your Ozarks Healthcare provider. To find a provider, visit https://www.ozarkshealthcare.com/find-a-doctor/.
Best Practices to Keep Safe
As rates of COVID-19 cases continue to surge not just in the Ozarks but also across many parts of the nation, Ozarks Healthcare officials stress the importance of getting vaccinated and using proper precautions while in public areas to protect against the contraction and spread of COVID-19.
“Getting vaccinated is the best option to avoid hospitalization and the spread of the virus to your loved ones,” Dr. Chris Cochran, Ozarks Healthcare Internal Medicine, said. “Most COVID-19 patients hospitalized now – not just at Ozarks Healthcare, but at every health system – are not vaccinated. We have the data showing vaccines’ safety. Please seek your information from medical officials. If you are hesitant about getting vaccinated because of true medical concerns, please visit with your healthcare provider rather than relying on uncredited sources or misinformation that is rampant across many forms of media.”
Those age 12 and older are recommended to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccines are available through the Ozarks Healthcare Pharmacy by appointment. Please call 417-256-1793 to schedule a vaccination.
According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), masking, handwashing, and continued diligence in keeping socially distant are recommended for those in an area of substantial or high transmission, whether fully vaccinated or not. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series (Pfizer or Moderna), or two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine).
If you are not vaccinated against COVID-19, you should especially avoid crowds and areas with poor ventilation, wash your hands with soap and water often, mask, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, avoid touching your face, and clean and disinfect surfaces you touch often.
For more information regarding Ozarks Healthcare’s COVID-19 resources and updates, please visit https://www.ozarkshealthcare.com/coronavirus-updates/.
Ozarks Healthcare is a system of care encompassing primary care and 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 www.OzarksHealthcare.com.
Environmental service staff at Ozarks Healthcare prepare a bed in Ozarks Healthcare’s COVID-19 unit, Unit 2A, ahead of the unit’s reopening.