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Kansas medical officials warn of looming health care catastrophe if COVID surge continues

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 11:56 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The gloves were off during a statewide conference call among hospital executives facing facilities on the verge of being overwhelmed by COVID.

The call, hosted by the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, was attended virtually by health leaders and hospital CMO’s from across Kansas.

Area hospitals facing increase in critical care patients, staffing shortages

Additional coverage from Wednesday morning's conference call.

Dr. Jennifer Schrimsher, infectious disease physician at Lawrence Memorial, speaks during...

It was scheduled earlier this week to address the crisis the healthcare community is experiencing due to the COVID pandemic.

During the meeting, Stormont Vail Chief Medical Officer Kevin Dishman pleaded with the community to help, while taking aim at the unvaccinated saying “people waving the flag of personal choice are extending this pandemic.”

Health officials on the call collectively urged Kansans to get vaccinated or a booster, wear a mask, stay at home if you are sick, avoid large crowds, and get tested if you feel sick.

Dr. Steven Stites with the University of Kansas Health System said mask mandates “absolutely bend the curve” while warning of potential closures of schools and businesses should COVID spread out of control.

Officials said several health care facilities across the state are already rationing health care, and some are on the threshold of what’s referred to as “crisis of standards of care,” a phrase used when doctors and nurses are forced to decide who gets treatment based on their likeliness to live or die.

During the same call, a representative from Hays Medical Center announced the state’s first confirmed report of “flurona,” where a patient has tested positive for COVID and influenza at the same time.

Kansas reported 43 new deaths, 146 new hospitalizations and nearly 15,000 new cases in KDHE’s latest COVID dashboard released Monday.

As a result, Topeka’s University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus re-activated its COVID-19 incident command as their Critical Care unit hit 115% capacity.

Stormont Vail said Tuesday they were caring for 56 COVID patients, and an additional 130 through its enhanced primary care program. The hospital also reported 92 of their employees were out due to illness or exposure.

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