hospitals

LAWRENCE, KANSAS — Herington Municipal Hospital got fed up with long waits for lab results that would tell its patients with respiratory symptoms whether they have the novel coronavirus.

So when a sales representative called the 25-bed hospital in rural central Kansas offering tests that produce results in less than half an hour, Herington ordered 500.

“We answered the phone on the right day,” CEO Isabel Schmedemann said in an interview this week. “I wish we had ordered more.”

One hundred people in her community have already come in for the test.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — Flatten the curve: A phrase that didn’t mean anything two months ago is now the driving factor behind social distancing, stay-at-home orders and limiting the number of people who can gather in one place.

The idea is to make sure hospitals aren’t overrun with severe COVID-19 cases, as well as help hospitals conserve limited resources such as personal protective equipment.

But in Kansas, there isn’t publicly available data on whether a hospital is close to filling up. And few are willing to share that information.

Rural hospitals face “catastrophic cash shortages” brought on by the COVID-19 crisis and need congressional action to save them, according to a Leawood, Kansas, advocacy group that represents hundreds of rural hospitals.

In a letter Monday addressed to the leaders of the U.S. House and Senate, the National Rural Health Association asks that 20% of the $100 billion in funding for hospitals in the CARES Act, the $2 trillion coronavirus response bill passed by Congress last month, be set aside for rural providers.  

Have you been tested for COVID-19 in Kansas, or have you tried? We want to hear from you. We’re also interested in hearing from health care workers about what they’re seeing in their clinics and hospitals, and from patients.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas is struggling to get its hands on the millions of N95 masks, surgical gowns and other protective gear it wants to shield first responders and health care workers against COVID-19.

Gov. Laura Kelly told reporters Monday that Kansas has been pursuing three routes to get more of those supplies, along with testing kits and ventilators.

Are you an employee of Stormont Vail or another Kansas health care providers that is reducing pay during the COVID-19 crisis? We want to hear from you.

TOPEKA, Kansas — A major hospital in the state’s capital slashed pay this week for many employees to try to weather financial woes spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Joe Meier’s hospital in Wilson County has 15 beds, no intensive care unit and one ventilator. Two of his neighboring counties in southeast Kansas have no hospital at all, and another two have no ICU either.

So Meier has a plea to the residents of his region: Stay home.

"It's not a matter of 'if' (COVID-19) is going to hit here,' he said. "It’s a matter of when."

Update: 2:30 p.m. Monday 

Kansas’ single confirmed coronavirus patient has been admitted to the University of Kansas Health Systems hospital.

The Johnson County woman, who was announced to have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus on Saturday, was admitted to the Kansas City, Kansas, hospital after self-isolating at home.

On Feb. 6, 2018, Travis Claussen had his right hip replaced at Blue Valley Hospital in Overland Park.

The 40-year-old resident of Lawson, Missouri, had been experiencing severe back pain for years. Before then, he’d been a physical fitness buff who was into off-road motorcycle racing.

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Chris Costantini lay in a cold sweat, his shoulder dislocated after slipping on a porch in Kansas City, Kansas.

He’d been out alone, knocking on doors and rustling up voters for the upcoming midterms in October 2018. Now he waited for an ambulance, full of anxiety about how the injury could hinder his next performance at the Kansas City Ballet.

Go here to subscribe to the My Fellow Kansans podcast. This season, we look at the prospects of rural places.

ANTHONY, Kansas — Few things signal a rural community’s decline more powerfully than the closure of its hospital.

Like shuttered schools and empty Main Streets, an abandoned hospital serves as a tangible reminder of the erosive power of decades of population loss and unrelenting economic trends.

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