Thank you for the outpouring of support for the hospital staff and providers. Your thoughtfulness and kindness are very appreciated during this very challenging time in our state, our country and the world. The staff and providers have enjoyed the drinks, food, cookies and appreciate your prayers.
We fully support Governor Kelly’s executive order for a statewide stay-at-home order. Governor shared during the press conference that we could top over 900 cases next week. The order means stay at home unless you are going to get food, household necessities, medical care or other essential services.
The reason that stay at home is so important in our county and our state is that it will not take much to overwhelm the health care system in Kansas, as we are seeing in New York. There are estimates predicting as high as 40% of the population will have the Coronavirus (COVID-19). 20% have needed to be hospitalized and 10% will need to be on a ventilator for life saving treatment.
Our county has 25 beds including 1 ICU bed, and 6 beds in emergency. We have 2 ventilators. If we apply the same statistics mentioned above to our Brown County population of almost 10,000, that would mean about 4,000 people would have the virus. If 20% would need to be hospitalized that would mean 800 people need a hospital bed. And 10% would need to be on a ventilator that would mean 80 people. You can see how important it is to stay at home and stop the spread and flatten the curve. Despite the strong skills and dedication of our staff, our community hospital does not have the resources to meet these needs. We face even more of a challenge if our staff are the ones with the coronavirus. Our regional centers will have the same impact and more depending on the regional populations we serve. I am sure you have seen the challenges that are facing New York and other large metropolitan areas.
Hiawatha Community Hospital Leadership team has activated our incident command to improve our operations during this national emergency. We are on calls with someone every day whether it is with the CDC, American Hospital Association, Kansas Hospital Association, Regional Preparedness, regional tertiary centers and county health departments. We are also holding 2 internal huddles a day and we have a COVID Dashboard to monitor activity and supplies. All public communication will come from the CEO’s Office.
We have followed Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recommendation to stop elective surgery. One of the reasons that this recommendation was implemented was to decrease the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) so that we can save our supplies for where it’s most needed. We support this recommendation despite the fact that surgery is an important source for revenue for our hospital and every hospital in the country.
We implemented CALL BEFORE YOU GO protocol for patients experiencing symptoms to prevent people from showing up to the hospital for clinic, hospital outpatient procedure and emergency department without being screened. We want to assess your symptoms to hopefully avoid spread to other patients and our health care workers.
We initiated a COVID Line that all callers who are calling in with COVID symptoms fever, cough and shortness of breath are directed to the line that is staffed with a nurse who will collect information and review symptoms and travel history. Most of the callers have been directed to home quarantine and call back if symptoms get worse. If the nurse reviews the information with a provider, the patient maybe called back for a drive screening, if warranted. We do encourage patients to come alone. Staff wearing PPE will come out to the patients car to provide care, verify information, and collect nasal samples. We run several tests – the first one is a rapid flu test, if negative we run a test for other viruses. If the follow up test is negative, then we send the sample to KDHE or a reference lab for COVID testing. We ask the patient to continue the home quarantine.
As of March 29th, we have had well over 100 callers on our COVID Line. 21 patients have been through our drive up collection service. We have also sent through a couple of tests for inpatients and emergency department patients. We have sent 22 samples for analysis, 13 have been negative and 9 are pending results. The Reference Lab is taking 4-5 days to return the results.
For the state, there have been 261 positive out of 3,671 tests, or about seven percent positive. 29 of the 105 counties have at least one positive with a majority of the positive cases in Johnson and Wyandotte Counties.
We are continuing to monitor our volume in the area and we have developed our organization response when there are positive cases in Brown County. We are focusing on staff training for use of PPE and orientation to different departments as we seeing changes in volumes for most departments.
For the latest information, please check
For Updates in Kansas: https://govstatus.egov.com/coronavirus
For Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019nCoV/index.html