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Health news and issues in the Ozarks.

CoxHealth Continues To Care For More Than 100 Largely Unvaccinated COVID-19 Inpatients

Michele Skalicky

A graphic showing the numbers of COVID-19 inpatients on August 26 at CoxHealth who are vaccinated versus those who are unvaccinated is being widely shared on social media.  More than 1700 people had shared it on Facebook as of Tuesday, August 31.


CoxHealth president and CEO Steve Edwards posted the health system’s graphic Friday on Twitter.  It depicts COVID inpatients using circles.  Those unvaccinated are blue circles and those vaccinated are orange circles. 

Credit CoxHealth
CoxHealth COVID-19 inpatient graphic



He said it’s hard to express what hospitals are seeing as they deal with an influx of largely unvaccinated COVID-19 inpatients.  He hopes the graphic will help people realize what’s actually happening and encourage them to get vaccinated.  


“When we look at numbers of, you know, 130 admitted, and 120 are unvaccinated or 48 ICU patients, and 47 unvaccinated or 30 patients on ventilators and every single one of them unvaccinated, the lesson’s starkly clear that vaccinations help and are important.”  


The patients depicted in the graphic were CoxHealth inpatients, with COVID-19 being the main reason they were admitted. 

CoxHealth is still caring for a large number of patients who were admitted due to COVID-19 although numbers are down.  As of Monday, there were 117 compared to a high of 187 earlier this summer.  CoxHealth continues to employ about 280 traveling healthcare workers.

As numbers drop, Edwards is cautiously optimistic.  He hopes his staff will get a respite before the fall but he feels vaccination rates "are still way to low to get this disease under hand."  He said Greene County needs to have 85 to 90 percent of its population vaccinated to get COVID-19 under control, "and we are a long way from that."  And he's worried that if they see large numbers of flu and RSV cases this fall and winter, it will be even more difficult to care for COVID patients.

As he looks into the future he's also concerned about children getting COVID-19, especially as schools start back up.

"We've learned that this disease does seem to affect children," Edwards said.  "Children are at higher risk than they were with the ancestral strain of this disease."

CoxHealth has developed new relationships with St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University to provide telemedicine to aid physicians in anticipation of additional pediatric COVID-19 cases.

And as numbers drop, Edwards said CoxHealth is able to pay back the help that other hospitals provided.  The health system rarely has to defer patients now, and they're getting 40 to 70 requests for referrals from other hospitals every day.

Last week CoxHealth had 20 patients from out of state, mainly from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas, but there were also patients from Tennessee, Alabama and North Carolina.  

At this point, he said, he believes they've taken in more patients from other areas than they've sent out.

"There is a sense of civic duty that we need to make sure that we repay those areas that helped us and, at the same time, not drowning our staff, and I think we've done that," he said.


Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.