Stormont hits 103 COVID-19 inpatients, may need to transfer to other facilities

Stormont Vail, St. Francis see surge in Covid-19 cases
Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 3:24 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - With a new high in patients numbers, Topeka’s Stormont Vail said Monday it may need to transfer people needing medical/surgical or COVID-19 beds to other facilities.

Finding open beds at other facilities, though, may pose its own challenge, as hospitals around the state and region face rising patient numbers and increased numbers of staff impacted by illness and quarantine.

In a statement, Stormont CEO Dr. Robert Kenagy said the hospital went from 97 COVID-positive inpatients at 8:30 a.m. Monday, to 103 by noon. He says they continue to triage and stabilize patients in their emergency department, but they may need to transfer patients to other area facilities.

“This is a very fluid situation and can change minute by minute,” Kenagy said. “We may come off of this status throughout the day, but then may return to it as patient acuity changes and our staffing changes. For our organization, this reflects the mark of reaching a new level in this crisis.”

Stormont had nearly 200 employees out Monday - and they’re not alone. The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis campus has told 13 NEWS they, too, are struggling with increased patient load, and more staff absences. St. Francis has been adding staff the past couple months, and even brought in several traveling nurses to assist.

The Kansas Hospital Association’s latest report showed 44 percent of the state’s hospitals anticipated staffing shortages this week.

Kenagy said Stormont is shifting many services to telehealth to ease the staffing crunch. They also are moving some elective surgeries that require overnight stays to free up inpatient beds. Last week, they transitioned some waiting areas and hallways to patient care space.

Stormont requested help from Kansas Emergency management in filling more than 150 positions, including nurses, patient care techs, and respiratory therapists. However, as of Monday, a Stormont spokesperson said the state was unable to meet any of the request using the Kansas National Guard, but continued working to identify possible solutions using contractors.

A spokesperson for the Kansas Adjutant General said they are receiving requests from the counties daily, and are actively working to identify gaps in services, and plan for future needs.

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