The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented test of our medical facilities and emergency medical services. The current, sharp rise in infection and positivity rates in our communities is stressing health-care services, causing changes in how you may receive care.
This joint statement serves as our update to the public and request for you to take this pandemic seriously. Here is what you need to know.
Current situation and expectations:
1) Emergency room visits are high and wait times extended as health-care workers triage patients including transfers for those who need a higher level of care. This is true for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. Be prepared that standard ER visits will look very different and take much longer at this time.
2) Transfers are increasingly difficult to coordinate as facilities across the state are full and/or running at capacity. Longer transfer journeys mean our local transport services could be out of the county for longer or unavailable.
3) Staffing levels also impact hospital capacity and transfer service capability. Unchecked community spread is exposing health-care workers and their families to the virus outside of work. Staff who test positive or suffer a high-risk exposure must quarantine, causing staffing issues. This is happening across the country making it nearly impossible to get agency and temporary staffing for hospitals.
What you can do to help:
• Follow the pillars of infection prevention. Wear a mask over your nose and mouth; practice good hand hygiene; practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings, especially through the holiday season. Your actions can make a difference and can limit the spread of the virus.
• Use emergency services appropriately –
Call 911 for emergencies only.
Understand the Emergency Room is for medical emergencies only. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 but are not experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call your regular health-care provider for medical advice.
If you are having a health-care emergency, do come to the ER. It is safe and we are staffed to care for you. You are not a burden.
• Be patient and understanding. This is a difficult time. You can support your health-care community best by taking necessary precautions to stay healthy and being compassionate as workers provide quality health-care through this pandemic.
We are all in this together. Help us help you.
Clara Barton Hospital and Clinics
Ellinwood Hospital and Clinic
University of Kansas Health System – Great Bend Campus
Great Bend Fire/EMS