Hays, Kansas – The Midwest, including Ellis County is experiencing record numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. The county currently has 1820 positive patients which is an increase of 238 cases from a week ago per the KDHE tracking website.
We have had total of 236 COVID-19 in patients admitted to HaysMed since the beginning of the pandemic. As of today, we have a total of 27 COVID-19 patients in the hospital. We have had a total of 33 deaths since the pandemic began with 20 of those deaths occurring since October 1. It is important to note these statistics are not inherent to Ellis county as we are a regional referral center and receive patients from all over the area.
Please refer to the Ellis County Health website for Ellis County specific information. https://www.ellisco.net/97/Health
What does this mean for the hospital, the community and the region in general? The number of beds currently being used for COVID-19 related care has spiked exponentially here and across the Midwest creating a high demand for patient beds. This, during a traditionally busier time of year as people move indoors and other seasonal respiratory viruses are more common.
What is the patient capacity at the hospital? We are licensed for 207 beds at HaysMed but we have a total of 113 beds available for use. However, just because beds are available doesn’t mean that we have enough staff to care for the patients in 113 beds. The number of patients we can care for depends on the acuity of the patient and the number of available staff. The critical number that is most important is the number of staff available. We are doing everything we can to accept everyone we can. As long as we can keep our team healthy and able to take care of patients, then we will continue to be able to accept patients.
How close are you to meeting that capacity? Capacity at HaysMed is an ever-changing variable. There are days when we reach capacity and have to divert patients. This has happened even when we were not in the COVID-19 pandemic but lately it is happening more frequently due to the influx of COVID-19 patients.
What does it mean to divert or transfer patients? When we reach a stage where we don’t have any more staff to care for patients, we cannot accept new patient transfers from other hospitals. These transfers are not only COVID related but also include patients who have had heart attacks, strokes and other medical emergency situations. We then must try and find other facilities that can take the patient.
Does the Emergency Room ever close? No. Even on the rare occasions when patients are diverted, our emergency room remains open to all those who need emergency care. However, if beds and staffing cannot permit us to admit you, we will work to find another hospital with capacity which may mean receiving care in another city, county or state.
How is COVID-19 impacting transfers? If we are at capacity, we request to transfer a patient to another hospital. It is increasingly difficult to find a hospital that can accept a patient because they, too, are experiencing high census due to COVID. This can affect COVID-19 patients as well as other medical needs including heart attack, stroke, or trauma. Requests for transfers are coming to the health system from as far away as Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Nebraska. Such needs to transfer delays medical care and potentially sends patients far away from home.
What measures are in place should the hospital reach patient capacity? Our health system hospitals manage patient flow every day and have emergency plans for handling a surge in patients whether from trauma or in this case … a pandemic. However, COVID-19 has forced the hospital to take more critical measures including but not limited to:
*Delaying non-urgent elective surgery and procedures to free beds and staff for COVID-19 patients
*Restricting visitors to decrease the spread of COVID-19
*Manage PPE and medical supplies needed to care for COVID-19 patients
*Keep constant contact with the Ellis County Health Department, The University of Kansas Health System, Fort Hays State University, Ellis County Schools, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and the Kansas Hospital Association to monitor the situation.
Is it safe to come to HaysMed? YES. Hospitals and clinics are currently considered the safest place in every community during this pandemic as the pillars of infection prevention and control are strictly followed and enforced. Telehealth is also a recommended option for healthcare during this pandemic when a conversation with your provider meets your needs. While your experience visiting our facilities to receive care or support a loved one may look and feel a bit different, be assured that what is not different is our commitment to your health and safety, and that of your loved ones.
What can the public do to help this situation? As the number of COVID-19 patients at HaysMed and across the Midwest rise exponentially, it is critical for us to work together to slow the virus spread to avoid overwhelming hospitals and healthcare workers.
Help keep everyone safe:
* wear masks that cover your nose and mouth when in public
*consider eye protection, especially when flying
*maintain a six-foot distance with those outside your immediate household
*wash and/or sanitize your hands thoroughly and often
*avoid gatherings where social distancing is not possible.
*Stay home if you are ill
*Do not let down your guard!
We recognize people are weary of the pandemic and this includes healthcare workers. HaysMed is committed to doing whatever it takes to protect your health and well-being and you play a critical part in our ability to provide that care.
Can I assess my risk for attending a group gathering? Yes. Have a plan and ask questions. Know how many people will attend and assume that everyone you meet may carry the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Take the pillars of infection prevention and control with you. The COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool is interactive and shows the current virus spread across the U.S. https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu/?fbclid=IwAR168Jpexddvg_gS4JjiX810qsjvwxhEQmOIUu37hCIkbIX7y8J84HqnXHI
Link to the KDHE’s COVID-19 Microsite. https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/
Link to the Ellis County Health Department that has the latest COVID-19 information for Ellis County. https://www.ellisco.net/97/Health
Link to the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html