(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) St. Joseph mayor and city council citing quickly increasing hospitalization numbers at Mosaic Life Care as part of the reason for expanding our mask mandate.
Mosaic Life Care went from 26 COVID inpatients to 36 in just one day.
That has hospital physicians and administrators on alert on what may happen in the days and weeks ahead.
Staff at Mosaic Life Care knew eventually this day would come, a ballooning of COVID-19 patients needing to be admitted to the hospital.
"This is exactly the rush we've been anticipating," Dr. Edward Kammerer, Mosaic Life Care’s Chief Quality Officer said.
They are partially blaming people congregating together. The Labor Day weekend and schools and colleges going back in session has just been in the last couple weeks.
With most patients showing symptoms of COVID-19 from 5 to 11 days from first exposure, the rush is coming right on schedule. Also, as health experts have warned COVID-19 can hit hard on any age group.
"We've actually seen a significant portion of younger, meaning 30s to 60s, who are working,” Dr. Kammerer said. “That's partly because of the nature of the beast of getting together with people."
Hospital administrators aren't panicking yet.
They say they can easily handle up to 48 patients in their 5th floor COVID ward.
If they get more, they can convert their 4th floor to also handle 48 more COVID patients.
While they say they've got the space for the patients and all the necessary medications, supplies and equipment to treat them, COVID-19 is a staff-intensive illness to treat meaning staffing could become short.
"Especially when they are really sick. You have to flip them, we have to do ventilators when they're laying on their stomach,” Dr. Kammerer said. “The nurses have to turn these people all the time so they don't get bedsores or pressure sores because very commonly these people are in the hospital 20 to 50 days.”
So say you start getting a headache, maybe a fever and a loss of taste or smell. Does that mean you immediately need to go to the hospital?
“What really gets you in trouble with COVID is when it descends into your lungs. That's when things start to go south,” Dr. Kammerer said. “What I recommend to patients is when they start to cough or start to be short of breath, I like them to walk up and down the stairs and tell me are they just a little short of breath or really starting to struggle."
Physicians and medical staff say this is a tough time to be in their profession, but one that they will get through.
"It's very frustrating for us in today's time but in the history of medicine, this is unprecedented in how fast we've responded,” Dr. Kammerer said. “Humanity has declared war on COVID and we're going to win this."
Dr. Kammerer says when they built the hospital tower, the 5th floor was specifically designed to be a pandemic floor that can also be turned into an intensive care unit. Where normally one nurse is assigned to four patients, because of the nature of COVID, one nurse is only responsible for two patients.