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Gov. Parson considering deploying National Guard to help Missouri's hospitals

By Kurt Erickson And Annika Merrilees, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in News & Features

The task force is also discussing crisis standards of care, which guide clinicians in choosing who can and can't be helped with limited resources available.

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Hospitals have already begun scaling back elective procedures. But if COVID-19 admissions continue on this path, hospitals will have to turn off more services in order to care for the most critical patients, Garza said.

Dr. Clay Dunagan, BJC HealthCare chief clinical officer, said during a briefing on Friday that hospitals are already starting to cancel procedures that can be postponed for eight weeks without causing harm. For example, a patient waiting for a joint replacement could probably wait two months without a threat to their health.

"We will always reserve capacity to deal with the patient who turns up in the emergency room with a heart attack or a stroke," Dunagan said. "But almost everything else is on the table for removal as the hospital fills up with coronavirus patients."

Dunagan said hospitals soon will be equipping anesthesia recovery spaces, operating rooms and other spaces to operate as ICU rooms. In other cases, they will put two people in an ICU room that is designed for one.

 

Garza repeated his calls for a statewide mask mandate and "safer at home" orders, like the one in place in St. Louis County.

Parson, in his weekly press briefing on Thursday, asked Missourians to work harder to stem the spread of the deadly virus.

He also focused on addressing hospital staffing issues, rather than establishing new facilities.

"We can still put up a facility in 11 days, we know that, but I'm not sure that's the most adequate way to do it right now," Parson said. "Staffing is the major issue, not so much bed space."

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