Stormont Vail preparedness during coronavirus pandemic

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Stormont Vail said it is ready to handle more COVID-19 patients, as the hospital had its first positive case Tuesday.

The man who tested positive for coronavirus was transferred from Woodson County to the Intensive Care Unit at Stormont Vail.

As the virus spreads, CEO Dr. Robert Kenagy anticipates more rural hospitals will rely on them to help.

“I think it’s a reality that our rural hospitals are going to have a very difficult time caring for these patients," he said.

Kenagy said Stormont Vail has a close relationship with rural hospitals in the region.

“We have historically taken care of patients that they can’t, and that will be our position in this," he said.

Stormont Vail has made 47 negative pressure rooms available and can add 16 more if needed.

Kenagy said they're also using virtual nursing to limit the amount of contact the staff has with COVID-19 patients.

“We’re going to try to assist the physician's interaction virtually, so the physician can interact with the patient without having to go into the room," he said.

To cut back on the wait time for test results, the hospital is working on an internal testing site.

Kenagy said, “We’ll be testing a large number of patients outside the guidelines the KDHE has established.”

He said while the situation is unprecedented, their goal is to continue to be a reliable resource in the community.

“It’s created an environment that’s been challenging, but has brought our team closer and we are all very highly motivated to support each other and support the community," said Kenagy.

Stormont Vail added a pre-screening tool to their website with questions that can help people determine whether they may have been exposed to the virus.

They're also turning their Northwest Fielding Express Care location into an acute respiratory clinic for now, but patients must call before they go.

That number to call is 785-354-6000.