As COVID-19 cases explode, a plea from Cape Girardeau hospital execs
COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing in our area, and local hospital management and public health officials are deeply concerned. On one hand, there is no need to panic. There are enough hospital beds to provide services. And, in fact, anyone with health issues should not hesitate to see their medical provider for assistance, regardless of whether it is related to COVID. But COVID is putting a strain on local staffing, particularly nurses, as hospitals and nursing agencies outside the area scramble to recruit talent to other hot zones.
"It's a bidding war, and we're constantly chasing it," said Ken Bateman, CEO of SoutheastHEALTH. Bateman spoke at a news conference Friday with Maryann Reese, president and CEO of Saint Francis Healthcare System, and Cape Girardeau County Public Health officials Jane Wernsman and Dr. John Russell.
The challenge is not hospital capacity or equipment, Reese said, it is the current trajectory of cases, which is unsustainable to serve with available staffing.
According to Russell, the region has seen a doubling of cases in the past two weeks -- well above previous highs -- and without the public changing behavior, the number is expected to go up at least another 50% before the end of the month. All officials encouraged the public to take COVID precautions seriously, even though many people may be fatigued of them.
Wear a mask. Spread out when in a group. Wash hands religiously.
The recommendations were directed to people throughout the area, including in small towns, and not just in Cape County. Among the concerns, contact tracing indicates too many people are letting their guard down at social events, weddings, funerals and small group gatherings at home with friends. The virus doesn't appear to be spreading in schools where masks are worn, Russell said, but schools are nevertheless being strained, as teachers are infected in the community, creating staff shortages and putting a burden on parents.
"Everybody has to do their part," he stressed.
At the beginning of her remarks, Reese said there wasn't much new to say. We all know what to do, even if we've become tired of it, she intimated. So, instead, she shared a poem, written from her heart early in the morning, underlining that "with liberty comes responsibility."
The "flamingos" in the poem refer to the hundreds of statues placed in front of Saint Francis Medical Center, being added to daily, each representing a recovered COVID-19 patient.
A Plea from a Hospital CEO Nurse
Transcribed from news conference in Cape Girardeau on Friday, Nov. 13. Remarks by Maryann Reese
You see ... whom the coronavirus has spared,
We see ... the sick and gasping for air.
The flamingos represent saves, we are so proud,
We also see the linen shroud.
We care for our neighbors, our family, our friends,
They just keep coming. Will it ever end?
We see colleagues tired and stressed,
Burned out from all the unrest.
We are free to choose,
Just read or watch the news.
The First Amendment we do adhere,
Ronald Reagan made it clear,
With liberty comes responsibility.
Instead, I see fear and hostility.
We have the right to NOT wear a mask,
But I beg you, it is such an easy task.
Do it for a cause that's greater,
Keeping loved one's off a ventilator.
The virus, it's going to be around,
Only you can help keep it down.
When will this end?
It's in your hands to amend.
We beg for your assistance,
We beg for your assistance,
Wear a mask, wash your hands,
And ... socially distance.
Thank you Maryann for opening your heart and sharing your thoughts. And to all our medical providers, doctors and nurses: Thank you. Thank you for the many things you do that we do not see, taking care of "the sick and gasping for air."
May we double our own efforts and help where we can, even if we are tired, even if we don't like to do them. Like wearing masks.
It is the least we can do. And now is the time to do it.
Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian.
- The day I watched Diego Maradona play (12/1/20)
- Nation is not alone; thank you God for many blessings (11/25/20)
- Taking COVID-19 precautions at weddings, funerals and Thanksgiving events is vital (11/19/20)
- Taking a dog named 'Shark' to beach is a very bad idea (11/7/20)
- Some big misses on Election Day -- and a note of grace (11/5/20)
- Do you love the movies? Then don't miss the new series at La Croix! (10/29/20)
- Balance on the river's edge (10/24/20)
Editorial (12/2/20)Toybox, Christmas for the Elderly seeking supportThe Toybox and Christmas for the Elderly programs will operate a little differently from previous years this Christmas, but the need for support is still great ó more so this year with the challenges of COVID-19. Toybox is collecting toy donations...
Column (12/1/20)Don't let coronavirus kill your ChristmasI'm torn this year. I've never been much of a Christmas decorator post-childhood, and everybody knows I rail against those Hallmark snow movies, as I call them. Last year, what with the new house and all, I did my thang, and put up not one, but two...
Column (12/1/20)The day I watched Diego Maradona playIf you love soccer, you know Diego Maradona as one of the all-time greats. The day I watched him play was June 8, 1990, in Milan, Italy, the opening match of the once-every-four-years World Cup, with Argentina defending its crown. When that day...
Column (11/30/20)GOP future depends on more black, brown votersBig questions remain about what exactly happened in the 2020 election. Iíve been looking over history, compiled on the Statista website, of total votes cast in presidential elections compared with the number of eligible voters. 2020 seems very,...
Column (11/28/20)Swan Commentary: Congress is running out of time to support frontline doctorsAs COVID-19 cases continue to surge, our doctors are working tirelessly to ensure patients have the best possible chance of surviving this deadly virus. Unfortunately, the federal government is planning to move forward with policy that would have...
Column (11/28/20)Democrats want unity only on their termsMany Trump haters have been lying all along about President Donald Trump, what he stands for, what his record has been and who his supporters are. Now they tell us they want unity. What Trump wants -- and want his supporters want -- is for America...
Editorial (11/27/20)Shop local, take precautions when shopping for ChristmasThe unofficial start to Christmas shopping begins this weekend. In recent years the Black Friday kickoff has consistently started earlier and earlier. Some would camp out overnight to be the first ones in a shopping center. Then instead of opening...
Column (11/27/20)Giving thanks, maintaining perspective in a pandemicEvery Thanksgiving, we make a conscious effort to give thanks. This year, even in the midst of a pandemic, I'd encourage you to be genuinely grateful for everything you may take for granted. There is still so very much. Let's be thankful that we...
Column (11/27/20)The coming anti-COVID restriction backlashThe backlash is coming. It already seems clear that the first major political and culture eruption of the Biden years will be a roiling populist backlash against the next round of COVID restrictions. We saw this sentiment play out in sporadic...
Column (11/25/20)Nation is not alone; thank you God for many blessingsThere are struggles in the land, as there always are and will be, because humans are imperfect beings. But America remains a land of bounty, good in its spirit, founded on hope of a better future, with institutions built to last, and people free to...
Column (11/25/20)Trump faces critical choice about his political futureDonald Trump is nearing a crossroads. Those who allege that he has endangered the tradition of smooth presidential transitions by not conceding immediately after the media declared him the loser suffer amnesia. When Trump was elected in 2016, the...
Column (11/24/20)Blunts talks COVID vaccine, election results and Trump legacySen. Roy Blunt says the United States has written two new chapters on how to respond to a pandemic, one on testing and another on vaccines. The senator spoke with me Friday afternoon on several topics, including the good news about multiple COVID-19...
Editorial (11/23/20)EDITORIAL: Despite pandemic, Thanksgiving is still an opportunity for gratitudeThanksgiving ó a time to give thanks, and a time to reflect on what we are grateful for over the past year. Thanksgiving is also typically the start of the celebratory holiday season. For many, 2020 has been a year of shutdowns, of mask-wearing, of...
Editorial (11/20/20)Cape counselor recognized at national levelA Cape Girardeau school counselor has advanced as one of five national finalists for School Counselor of the Year, named by the American School Counselor Association. Olivia Carter works at Jefferson Elementary School in Cape Girardeau. In October,...
Editorial (11/18/20)Optimist Club recognition of law enforcement is importantSeveral area law enforcement officials were recognized last month at the Cape Girardeau Evening Optimist Club's Respect for Law banquet. This year's honorees included: Special Agent Beth Dallas, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Lt. Jason...
Editorial (11/16/20)With strong support, Newman Center at SEMO ahead of scheduleThe Newman Center, home of Catholic Campus Ministry at Southeast Missouri State University, exceeded fundraising goals with the help of more than 400 community supporters to construct a new facility after outgrowing the previous building....
Editorial (11/13/20)First of several SEMO commencements to be held Saturday with COVID precautionsSoutheast Missouri State University will host the first of several upcoming commencement ceremonies this weekend to recognize the university's new graduates. The spring and summer 2020 commencement was postponed earlier this year due to COVID-19....
Editorial (11/12/20)Honoring America's veterans and the freedom they help preserveAmericans honored the men and women in uniform, both past and present, on Wednesday as the nation celebrated Veterans Day. The holiday was originally called Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th...
- Missouri senators advance $1.2B virus aid package
- Cape County Court working to reduce jail population despite suspending jury trials through February
- Cape parks department cancels Thursday dance because of coronavirus
- St. Louis area in 'crisis mode' as virus surges
- 'Very dark couple of weeks': Morgues and hospitals overflow
- U.S. panel: 1st vaccines to health care workers, nursing homes
- Package delivery companies prepare for 'shipageddon'