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VERIFY: Can a ventilator stockpile help Southwest Missouri's Delta variant cases?

Governor Parson blamed a "management problem" after a hospital in Springfield said they ran out of ventilators for COVID-19 patients over the 4th of July holiday

ST. LOUIS — As Southwest Missouri battled an explosion of COVID-19 cases over the holiday weekend, Mercy Hospital in Springfield ran out of ventilators.

The hospital was able to source more from its sister hospitals, but Missouri Governor Mike Parson weighed in days later, saying no hospital in the state should ever run out.

During a press conference after a bill signing on July 7, Parson was asked about Mercy Hospital's situation.

"Number one, there should be no shortage of ventilators. Anybody saying there is a shortage of ventilators is wrong. The state has a stockpile of ventilators sitting over there. So, when somebody says 'We're out of ventilators,' that's more, I would say, a management problem, than anything," Parson said.

THE QUESTION

So let's Verify: Is it true the state of Missouri has a stockpile of ventilators available to hospitals?

THE SOURCES

We spoke with 

  • Dave Dillon, a spokesperson for the Missouri Hospital Association
  • The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
  • Kelli Jones, a spokesperson for Governor Parson
  • and Eric Frederick, chief administrative officer at Mercy Hospital Springfield.

THE ANSWER

5 On Your Side can Verify: Yes, this is true. The State of Missouri has ventilators available and ready to support healthcare facilities.

WHAT WE FOUND

Dillon and Frederick confirmed that hospitals are well aware of the state's stockpile of ventilators.

When we asked the governor's office how many ventilators are available, Jones said the State Emergency Management Agency reports 740 ventilators are on-hand for emergencies.

If a hospital needs access to the stockpile, the acting director of DHSS, Robert Knodell, said at a media call that they just need to ask.

"If they reach out to us and request those ventilators, if the need arises, the only delay that they will have is simply the time to transport them from Jefferson City to the location where the request is made," said Knodell.

For added context, Mercy Hospital Springfield has more COVID-19 patients this week than ever before. The hospital is currently using 30 ventilators. 

When the hospital ran out of ventilators around the 4th of July, its sister hospitals delivered extra ventilators quickly. Mercy didn't request to use the stockpile.

"Mercy has plenty of ventilators available throughout its health care system, with the ability to get more if needed. This was a very specific, short-term need that we quickly met. At no time did a patient who needed a ventilator go without; we had transport ventilators available that we could’ve used if needed. We try to keep transport ventilators available for our EMS service in Springfield," Frederick wrote in an email response to the Verify team's questions.

RELATED: Mercy St. Louis sending ventilators to Springfield as hospitalizations spike in Missouri

And as of July 9, Jones wrote for the governor's office, "The Springfield hospitals have not reached out for assistance. We stand ready to assist however and whenever needed."

What can the 5 On Your Side Verify team fact-check for you? Let us know: email us at verify@ksdk.com 

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