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Sedgwick County hospitals reach critical level for COVID-19, impact extends beyond Wichita area

Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 3:53 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 29, 2020 at 6:39 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Update Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020: With only 13 ICU beds available in Wichita’s major hospitals, the assessment for county hospitals in Sedgwick County is at a critical level. The impact of this isn’t limited to the Wichita area. Other counties often send some of their critical patients to Wichita for treatment.

“Our hospitals always have a number of people who are from outside Sedgwick County. I think with COVID, we may be seeing more of those people coming in," Dr. Minns said.

He said hospitals in the county haven’t yet told him they’re to the “critical” status yet, but he said if COVID-19 numbers keep heading in the wrong direction, they will need to start their overflow plans.

Eyewitness News on Thursday spoke to some rural healthcare professionals, one who reported having to go through seven hospitals before finding one that could take his critical patient. It’s a situation he said, was concerning. Doctors with Goodland Regional Medical Center in northwest Kansas and Winfield’s William Newton Hospital, closer to the Wichita area, said they’re experiencing issues with bed availability.

"Two nights ago, I went through seven different hospitals before I found a hospital that had the capacity to take a COVID patient that needed to go to the ICU, said Goodland Regional Medical Center Emergency Room Physician Assistant Stephen Swan. “So it’s happening already.”

William Newton Hospital CEO Ben Quinton said last week, there wasn’t a bed available in Wichita for one ill patient at the Winfield hospital who’d tested positive for COVID-19. That patient ended up at a hospital in Kansas City.

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Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020:

Hospitals in Sedgwick County reached the critical status level on Wednesday. That’s according to the Area Hospital Status Assessment on the Sedgwick County COVID-19 dashboard.

Under hospitalizations on the COVID-19 dashboard, 90 patients are listed as hospitalized with COVID-19 in Sedgwick County and 39 in the ICU, as of Monday. At that point in time, 195 ICU beds were in use and about 13 available. The site states, the data is provided by officials at Ascension Via Christi and Wesley Medical Center.

During the Sedgwick County Commission meeting on Wednesday, County Manager Tom Stolz relayed information to the board that was given to him by Local Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns who was not in attendance. Stolz said Wesley Medical Center was at 90% capacity, as of Monday. He said Ascension Via Christi had hit its capacity and all other local hospitals are at capacity as well.

As of Wednesday, Sedgwick County added 175 new COVID-19 cases and two new deaths. The percentage of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 sits at 13.3%. Eyewitness News has reached out to the local hospitals for more information on how they handle COVID-19 capacity.

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