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Coronavirus

Boone Hospital Center memo warns of COVID-19 patient load

Boone Hospital Center
Boone Hospital Center

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Boone Hospital Center has filled up a special COVID-19 unit it created in September as hospitalizations continue at record levels, according to a memo to staff sent Friday.

The staff COVID-19 alert said COVID patients had to be moved to other areas of the hospital when the special unit overflowed. A third of the hospitals intensive care patients are now COVID-19 patients, the memo said. Boone had 43 inpatients with COVID-19 on Monday, according to its website.

"We need to conserve the beds that are available in those spaces as well as the staff that are available to provide care in those spaces and those are the biggest constraints that are primarily right now driving what we're seeing as a very diminishing resource in hospitals," for Dave Dillon, spokesman for Missouri Hospital Association.

The hospital also turned down or transferred scores of patients because of the load.

Boone Hospital's struggles are being driven by a record number of hospitalizations statewide and in Boone County. Boone County's hospitals reported 123 hospitalizations for COVID-19 as of Monday. Of those patients, 36 were in intensive care. Intensive-care patients are sicker than others, requiring more resources, the hospital says.

"Sometimes if your ICU is full you had to find a different ICU bed but generally within Mid Missouri we can find something here recently if you cant find anything in mid Missouri you're struggling to find something in Kansas city or St Louis, its just getting tighter and tighter," says Dr. Robin Blount, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Boone Hospital Center.

The issue is complicated by the number of staff in quarantine or sick with the virus. The problem has taken on statewide significance, with the governor and state health director last week saying it was a primary concern at this point in the pandemic.

The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Senior Services is working on ways to create a more accurate reflection of the situation on its COVID-19 dashboard. Until the past few days the dashboard listed categories such as staffing and personal protective equipment, with each one labeled "no issues."

"We were hearing that the situation in the hospitals is worse than what our metrics would indicate,” health department Assistant Director Scott Clardy said.

Boone Hospital says in the memo that the numbers are reaching levels at which the hospital will consider changes to elective surgeries and visitation.

BJC HealthCare, which operates Boone Hospital, said last week it is stopping elective surgeries at several of its St. Louis hospitals.

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

Victoria Bragg

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