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Kansas hospitals at ‘breaking point’ amid COVID surge

Some hospitals across the state of Kansas say they're in dire need of help, and welcome a disaster declaration Gov. Laura Kelly issued on Thursday.
Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 7:39 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Kansas continues to see new highs in its COVID case rates, and hospitals across the state say they’re in dire need of help.

“Our hospital’s been basically at capacity, with the available staff that we have, for weeks now,” said Dr. Christopher Stipe, President and CEO at McPherson Hospital.

On Friday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed 16,341 news cases, the third update in a row where we’ve seen the case high surpassed. There were 37 news deaths reported and 97 new hospitalizations. The positive percentage rate of tests remains the highest it’s been at 28.6% for the month of January.

“Already, just the month of January just 7 days, we’re already 68 transfers. We’ve already been unable to accept due to the hospital being busy,” said Dr. Heather Harris, medical director at Hays Medical Center.

Hospitals say they’re at their breaking point - all experiencing the same thing.

“If you don’t have ventilators, if you don’t have certain things, you just can’t manage it at some of those smaller hospitals. It’s a daily occurrence where we get multiple phone calls and we’re unable to help. We just don’t have available beds to accept those transfers,” said Dr. Robert Freelove, Chief Medical Officer at Salina Regional Medical Health Center.

Some patients are dying, waiting for a bed.

“While they’re looking, they track the outcome of that patient. He had shared that the number of patients who expired awaiting transfer has increased fivefold in the last few weeks,” said Dr. Freelove.

Staffing also remains a major issue for the hospitals. On Thursday, Gov. Laura Kelly issued a disaster declaration to try and assist medical professionals during this time of crisis, but the hospitals say it’s just not going to have a huge impact on their short-term ability to staff.

“The thought is nice, but unfortunately, we don’t have 200 medical students out here in western Kansas to begin to treat patients,” said Dr. Harris. “Everybody that is working is working.”

Each hospital system said it’s more critical now than ever for Kansans to get vaccinated, wear a mask and social distance to help those who are helping you.

Some hospitals across Kansas say they are at capacity for available staff and have been that way for weeks.

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