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Barton County nurses experience COVID burnout, latest decision takes off some stress

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 10:02 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Before Thursday, Barton County Health Department personnel had to conduct their own COVID case investigations and contact tracing. Now, that will be the job of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).

Barton County Health Director Karen Winkelman said keeping up with the contact tracing of COVID cases was becoming too much for her staff when the decision was made.

“Any positive COVID case automatically gets routed to KDHE investigators to conduct the investigation and that’s the option that the board of health chose today,” Winkelman said.

Nursing Supervisor Lindsey Ensley is relieved that one extra step in the process is off their plate.

“It takes a lot of time,” Ensley said. “It takes more time than people would think for that one step to step process. So, it will free up a lot of our time.”

Nurses say the combination of rising COVID cases and general public health appointments is overwhelming, but the people on the frontlines are still here to serve.

“Every day is challenging at times but we are able to keep our focus on what we need to do,” nurse Debra Higgins said. “[We] do what we can for our community.”

The Barton County Health Department is currently understaffed. It has openings for a dietician and an RN position.

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