Rural KS healthcare workers looking forward to defense against community spread of COVID-19

Published: Dec. 14, 2020 at 3:47 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - As the COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Kansas, rural healthcare workers are looking forward to adding another form of COVID-19 prevention to help their community, prevention they’re hoping will help to put the pandemic behind them. The key will be for people in rural Kansas communities to actually get the vaccine once it’s available for them.

“Our delivery could potentially be December 22nd and December 23rd,” said Barton County Health Director Karen Winkelman.

Healthcare workers in counties across Kansas are preparing to distribute the vaccine to their communities.

“The health department distributes to hospitals. From there, hospitals distribute directly to our patients and to our workers,” Southwest Medical Center Hospitalist Director Dr. Andrey Ilyasov explained.

For some healthcare workers, a COVID-19 vaccine is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Vaccine is definitely the way to go. And if we don’t have the vaccine, we will not stop this pandemic,” said Dr. Ilyasov.

Adding another way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Liberal community and beyond is a big relief for Dr. Ilyasov.

“Because we just cannot stand it when our 40-to-50-year-old patients who are healthy, die from COVID-19, and we feel helpless, we cannot do anything about this,” he said.

Dr. Ilyasov believes fears of a new vaccine are normal but trusts that the emergency release of the first COVID-19 vaccine is an important step in the right direction to end the pandemic.

“Everybody’s afraid of some side effects, to some unfortunate events afterwards. Are they possible? They are possible. What’re the chances of this? Looks like the chance of any other vaccine, minimal,” Dr. Ilyasov said.

In Barton County, Winkelman believes the vaccine will especially help healthcare workers in rural communities.

“I think in some small communities too, we have to look at our healthcare system, to where there are a lot of challenges and the workload has increased,” she said. “So if we can do a preventative thing to maybe reduce some of those hospitalizations and take some of the strain off the frontline workers.

As with the City of Wichita and other more populated areas of Kansas, the plan in rural communities is to deliver the vaccine in phases ordered by Governor Laura Kelly.

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