COVID units in Wichita-area hospitals filling fast, changes being made to county COVID-19 dashboard

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 6:05 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Despite the recent increase in active COVID-19 cases, the Sedgwick County Health Department rates hospitalizations as “good'” in Sedgwick County, but COVID units in the county reflect a different story.

As of Tuesday (July 7), Sedgwick County’s COVID-19 dashboard said 12 patients were admitted in local hospitals this week with COVID-19. In reality, Eyewitness News learned from a memo to hospital staff that, as of Tuesday morning, in total, 36 patients are hospitalized between Via Christi St. Francis hospital and Wesley Medical Center.

“The numbers are so far as of (Tuesday) morning, we had 15 at St. Francis and 21 at Wesley,” said Dr. Tom Moore, an infectious disease specialist with Wesley Medical Center. “So, the numbers are significantly from where we were originally. What it means is that the hospitals, in general, are full.”

The COVID Unit at Wesley is not at full capacity, but beds are filling up fast. In part, that's because hospitals in Sedgwick County serve as regional hospitals and cover a majority of the state -- meaning Wesley Hospital and Ascension Via Christi receive patients from western and central Kansas as well – making hospital admissions higher.

“This has been a valid issue from the beginning,” Moore said. “The reason the dashboard has displayed what it’s displaying is because those are KDHE numbers and our health department numbers. The fact that we have a regional hospital network. We’ve been struggling with that for the last several weeks to put the best data out on the dashboard.”

Sedgwick County Manager Tom Stolz said the county will change the dashboard to include data such as, total patients admitted, patients under investigation, ICU beds in use, and ICU beds available. Data that is necessary for elected leaders to make informed decisions.

“That hopefully has data that is meaningful which is not misleading, we never intended to mislead people, and we are trying to tell as whole story as possible,” Stolz said. “This kind of data is meaningful for elected officials to make decisions and for citizens to understand the total breath of COVID.”

Local officials said the dashboard will be updated with this information as early as this week.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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