MU Health Care Chief Nursing Officer Mary Beck drew a definite conclusion in a Tuesday afternoon media conference: For now, they have enough masks, beds, test kits and hand sanitizer for staff and providers.

On Monday, MU Health Care received a partial supply of masks from the state. However, because of the unknowns surrounding COVID-19, Beck said that in the long-haul they want to make sure they have other resources to secure enough masks.

To help wrestle the unknowns, they’re taking an inventive approach.

The hospital is working with community volunteers, quilting stores and seamstresses to hand-make cloth masks. MU Health Care chooses the specific fabric, puts together supply packs and volunteers stitch the masks into functionality.

On another positive note, Beck said she was “pleased” to hear that Mayor Brian Treece and Boone County Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill announced stay-at-home orders Tuesday morning. The effort will work to “flatten the curve” — slow the spread of infection, she said.

Beck said their new drive-thru test center saw over 200 people Monday. In the days before, between 100 to 130 patients a day were being swabbed for the virus, she said.

The main center — University Hospital — has a capacity of 396 beds. The hospital freed up over 100 beds when MU Health Care canceled all elective surgeries — those requiring extensive use of personal protective equipment, surgeries that result in a hospital stay longer than two days and elective surgeries for people age 60 and above or those who have underlying conditions.

MU Health Care is also doing “very well with staffing at this time,” Beck said. If MU Health Care were to have a staff shortage it would partner other health care workers with experienced staff and use them on a regular medical or surgical floor unless they had recent intensive care unit experience, she said.

“We’re confident about our staff, but we’re looking at ‘Do we need to ramp that up? What would that look like?’” she said.

Beck said MU Health Care wants to “stay aligned” with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

The Missouri DHSS changed its guidance for people with COVID-19 under home isolation on Monday. Those infected are now instructed that they can discontinue isolation under the following circumstances:

  • At least three days — a full 72 hours — have passed fever-free, without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath.
  • At least seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

People who have laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and have not had any symptoms may discontinue home isolation when at least seven days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, according to a Missouri DHSS news release.

Still, the CDC guidance as of Monday notes that a quarantine period should last 14 days — a typical incubation period for the virus.

Like many of her fellow providers, Beck encouraged people to maintain social distance, wash their hands and help to lift each other up.

With the ever-changing effects of COVID-19, MU Health Care has also focused on increasing safety for community members. On Sunday, the visitors policy was amended. MU Health Care also changed pharmacy hours and practices, including the following:

  • South Providence, Smiley Lane and Keene Street pharmacies are drive-thru only.
  • Fairview Road pharmacy will be closed until further notice. Patients who use this location are to call the South Providence pharmacy at 573-882-3151 to arrange delivery or drive-thru prescription pickup.
  • Hitt Street pharmacy will be closed entry. Patients can call 573-882-8300 to pick up a prescription, make a payment or place an order. Once the order is complete, pharmacy staff will call the patient and deliver the order to the lobby.
For more COVID-19 related news, see our section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.
  • Copy editor, reporter and info graphics. I am a senior studying news reporting and sociology. Previously, I've reported on public safety issues and city government. Reach me at sarahhaselhorst@mail.missouri.edu, or 573-340-5591.

  • As senior editor of the Missourian, Fred Anklam manages general assignment reporters. He can be reached at anklamf@missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 573-882-5720.

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