MU Health Care says it has upped its response to the COVID-19 pandemic to its highest level. The health system says evidence that people have become infected here in mid-Missouri, rather than while traveling, triggered the move. So far the increased response level has meant screening employees for symptoms and banning most visitors to MU Health facilities.
Doctor Mark Wakefield said the system is trying to prepare for the kind of surge other cities have seen, which have tested hospitals’ capacities. “We have plans to open places that are not traditionally viewed as intensive care units to accommodate patients that might need intensive care," Wakefield said. "We’re working very diligently with staff to ensure we have a reserve of providers to take care of these patients.”
Wakefield said MU Health is also working to find new suppliers chains for testing equipment like swabs and tubes, which have become scarce across the country.
While the system has loosened restrictions for providers to give medical orders for COVID-19 tests, Wakefield said they will prioritize patients more at risk for serious symptoms. His recommendation for people who are showing symptoms is to use MU Health's app to get a free video screening.