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Hospital employees who don't normally work with patients volunteer to help bedside

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Some CoxHealth and Mercy employees move into different roles to help out as COVID-19 cases surge.

Hospitals are being creative to meet the high demand for care caused, in part, by the omicron coronavirus variant.

Both CoxHealth and Mercy are seeing high numbers of COVID-19 inpatients, and hospital administrators expect those numbers to go even higher in the next seven to 10 days.

Brent Hubbard, president and COO of Mercy Hospitals Springfield, said employees who don’t normally work directly with patients are volunteering for temporary roles to help out.

"We continue to have coworkers that are working from home that do not typically work in clinical settings that are pitching in to help," said Hubbard. "We have over 500 coworkers across the ministry that are pitching in to help in our clinical units to provide support, and it's really humbling to watch."

Administrative leaders and others in nonclinical settings are helping with things like patient care, food delivery, supply stocking and disinfecting.

Steve Edwards, president and CEO of CoxHealth, said emergency room physicians at his hospital are volunteering to cover night shifts in the COVID ICU. Teaching faculty in CoxHealth’s Family Medicine Residency program are helping with patient care. And 460 employees have volunteered to work as bedside support for frontline healthcare providers.

"These are people that don't have clinical background but they're doing the support to help our staffs," he said, "so that may mean emptying trash cans and running errands and moving equipment around, getting supplies."

Some employees are helping at the CoxHealth daycare, which added 200 spots as schools closed to in-person learning due to high numbers of COVID-19 cases.

Edwards said he’s very grateful for what the staff is doing.