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Missouri hospitals ask office workers to help nurses

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Hospitals across Missouri are asking staff members and administrators to take on additional duties to help deal with the current surge in COVID-19 patients.

Hospital employees are being asked to pick up shifts helping nurses by doing things such as fetching supplies or answering phones, or by filling absences in areas such as housekeeping and patient transport.

“Hospital administrators are pushing wheelchairs, accountants are emptying trash cans and marketing professionals are serving meals — whatever it takes to make sure that our co-workers who provide hands-on patient care are able to focus on their patients,” said Steve Mackin, Mercy’s incoming president.

At Mercy South Hospital, Katie Horton decided to spend her weekends and evenings over the last two weeks scrubbing patient rooms and helping nurses care for patients. Normally Horton, 49, works from home helping hire people for nonclinical jobs at the hospital.

“It was eye-opening,” she said. “I work from home. I’ve been very safe through it all, and that has certainly been a blessing.”

“I just felt like it was good to be able to see through the eyes of the person doing these jobs,” she added.

COVID-19 cases have been declining in the St. Louis area over the past couple weeks, but the number of patients in hospitals remains near the highest levels of the pandemic.

“Our hospitals remain full, our emergency departments are full, and there’s not a lot of room in our [intensive care units] either,” said Dr. Alex Garza, co-director of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force. “So, although this is improving, many of our staff continue to be out because of COVID or because they are taking care of a loved one or a child whose school has unfortunately closed because of COVID.”

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