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BJC Healthcare

Nurses greet a patient in their car to be tested for the COVID-19 at the Mercy Virtual Care Center in Chesterfield on Saturday morning. Missouri has four known cases of the new coronavirus virus as of Friday evening. 3/14/20
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated at 7 p.m., March 26, with details on SLU Hospital's guidance to employees on protective masks

As hospitals prepare to treat people who become very sick with the COVID-19 disease, doctors and nurses in St. Louis are worried they won't have enough protective gear to keep them safe.

Health care workers say hospitals have directed them to reuse equipment to stretch inventory as global demand during the pandemic has depleted the supply of gear such as N95 masks, which protect people from inhaling the virus.

Doctors and nurses say they have a duty to treat patients on the front lines, but they want the government and hospitals to make sure they’re protected while they’re doing their jobs.

Hospice patient Dorothy Matejka enjoys a music therapy session with her daughter Nancy Daake and music therapists Alison Cole and Kathryn Coccia, seen here with her guitar.
Nancy Fowler | For St. Louis Public Radio

Some of Dorothy Matejka’s favorite days are when she gets to enjoy music therapy in her south St. Louis apartment. She never tires of songs like “On the Good Ship Lollipop” and “Goodnight, Irene” that recall special moments of her 93 years.

“I’ve had a very good life and a lot of laughs, a lot of good times and a lot of memories,” Matejka said.

Matejka wistfully anticipates leaving a special memory for her family after her death: a song that includes her own heartbeat and lyrics drawn from family stories. The song is part of the Heartbeat Project, which music therapist Alison Cole started three years ago with hospice patients after hearing about it in other cities.

Medical workers at Mercy Health's drive-through novel coronavirus test collection site are gathering samples from patients daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (March 16, 2020)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis doctors are worried that the region’s hospitals don’t have enough beds to treat the expected surge in patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The St. Louis metropolitan area has about 9,300 hospital beds, not including those in public hospitals, according to the St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition. Nearly one-third of those beds are available.

But that likely won't be enough to treat more than 100,000 patients who could need emergency care throughout the outbreak, Harvard University researchers said in a recent report. 

A scanning electron microscope image shows the novel coronavirus (yellow) against human cells (pink.) 2-27-20
NIAID-RML

Missouri health officials are taking steps to protect people against the potential spread of the new coronavirus that has sickened thousands in China.

There haven’t been any recorded cases in Missouri and only two in Illinois. But health systems are asking people more questions and creating plans to respond to any potentially infectious patients who come through their doors.

“Our motto is, ‘Hope for the best, prepare for the worst,’” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. “In our case, we would much rather be over-prepared than under-prepared.”

Mercy Hospital St. Louis
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Medical marijuana is legal in Missouri, but some of the region’s largest hospital systems aren’t allowing their physicians to certify patients to use it. 

SSM Health will allow certifications for some patients. Mercy hospitals have announced a blanket ban on medical marijuana certification. BJC Healthcare, which includes Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, is still formulating its policy. 

“A lot of hospitals have decided, 'We’re not going to certify, because then nobody can tell us we’re doing anything wrong,'” Missouri Hospital Association General Counsel Jane Drummond said.

Siteman Cancer Center breaks ground for new facility in Florissant
provided | Siteman Cancer Center

Siteman Cancer Center broke ground Tuesday on its fifth outpatient site. The $26.3-million, 37,000-square-foot facility will be located on the Northwest HealthCare campus of Christian Hospital in Florissant.

“This is the best medicine coming right here to north county,” said Rick Stevens, the president of Christian Hospital. “This is money being put back in the community right here.”

The new facility is a joint project of BJC HealthCare — which owns and operates Christian Hospital — and Washington University School of Medicine. It is expected to open in late 2019.

BJC Healthcare is completing two new medical towers.
Huy Mach | Washington University School of Medicine

Doctors at Washington University will soon be able to provide better treatment to infants in critical care and their mothers.

The Barnes-Jewish Parkview Tower will house patients from the Siteman Cancer Center and the Women and Infants Center. It will be connected by skywalk to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Tower.

That connection will allow doctors to transfer infants in critical condition to the neonatal intensive care unit in the event of an emergency. It will also allow doctors to more quickly unite mothers with their newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Road map of Forest Park and the Central West End in St. Louis, MO.
Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

Forest Park Parkway near Barnes-Jewish Hospital in the Central West End is closing until at least next summer starting Monday.

The road, which runs below Kingshighway, will be filled in to connect at-grade with the intersection. The $10 million project is designed to improve access and safety for patients, visitors and neighbors, according to June Fowler, BJC’s  senior vice president of communications.

“We thought it was important to have a traditional intersection so folks who are traveling to the campus would have a more intuitive way to access services,” she said.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Less than a year after purchasing the facility, BJC HealthCare is closing the doors of its former competitor in Farmington.

The 126-bed hospital, which was called the Mineral Area Regional Medical Center before its acquisition by BJC, is scheduled to cease operations at 7 a.m. on Tuesday. The facility will close completely no later than January 31, according to hospital officials in Farmington. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 10, 2013 - With the arrival of the Affordable Care Act, the health-care landscape is slowly changing, not only for the uninsured but for health-care providers and their employees. Part of that change was reflected in layoffs earlier this year at BJC HealthCare and more recently in changes in employee health insurance benefits.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: With the arrival of the Affordable Care Act, the health-care landscape is slowly changing, not only for the uninsured but for health-care providers and their employees. Part of that change was reflected in layoffs earlier this year at BJC HealthCare and more recently in changes in employee health insurance benefits.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: An executive at BJC HealthCare said Friday that some patients enrolling in Missouri’s insurance exchange will be able to get health services from its affiliates through an agreement between the hospital system and Conventry Health Inc. That means the patients will have access to medical treatment from doctors and other providers in the BJC network, said June Fowler, vice president of corporate and public communications.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 17, 2012 - BJC HealthCare system is adopting a new philosophy of care for the elderly.  The change will occur because BJC Healthcare has become an Accountable Care Organization, a federal designation that is supposed to spur hospitals to focus with CAT scan accuracy on issues to improve quality and cut cost.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 25, 2009 - Work smarter! That's good advice for all employees, especially in health care, where inefficiencies can run up costs and mistakes can cost lives. That's the advice BJC Healthcare, the St. Louis region's predominant hospital group, wants to impress on all of its employees, from its lowest-paid hourly workers to its physicians and top executives.