Kansas City area hospitals sound alarm to lawmakers on COVID-19

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Chief medical officers from several health systems brief lawmakers on “what could be an upcoming COVID-19 crisis in the community.”

About 150 lawmakers heard from medical officials from The University of Kansas Health System, Liberty Hospital, North Kansas City Hospital, Truman Medical Centers/University Health, Saint Luke’s Health System and Advent Health/Shawnee Mission.

Medical officers then briefed the media with the following:

“The number one message the CMO’s had for lawmakers is hospitals are concerned about capacity. They pointed out that on Monday of this week, 277 COVID-19 patients were being treated in area hospitals while as of today, the number has risen to 318 and it’s climbing. For some hospitals, ten percent of all their patients are COVID-19 patients.  According to some counts, the Metro area is up to 700 new COVID-19 cases a day. Doctors say it’s up to elected officials to deal with the rising numbers in whatever ways they deem necessary, but urged them to convey to the public the pillars of infection prevention, and that those who wear masks and avoid large gatherings help keep businesses open and keep people out of hospitals.

Doctors discussed the difference between licensed and staffed beds. For most hospitals, the number of staffed beds is lower than the number of licensed beds. Staffed beds are those that are ready with full resources to handle patients. They noted that staffing shortages exist at many hospitals making it difficult for some to keep up with the rising demand, as COVID-19 is now the number one reason for hospital admissions across the city. The hospitals report very few numbers of patients admitted who have been reinfected with COVID-19.

Doctors first noticed two weeks ago it was becoming hard to transfer patients from rural areas to hospitals in the Metro area. While hospitals are doing their best right now to take care of everyone and not turn patients away, it may be unavoidable in the near future. It may force some to prioritize who gets care. They all say they have contingency plans in place.

In the early stages of the pandemic, hospitals also had to delay all elective surgeries, which caused bigger problems for those who needed those procedures. For most hospitals it took about three months to get through the backlog, which may be too long for heart, stroke or cancer patients. They hope it does not come to that again. Doctors strongly advised people not to put off screenings or any health care, especially if they’re concerned about the safety of a doctor or hospital visit. They pointed out that in any city, hospitals are the number one hot spot for COVID-19, yet there have been no confirmed cases of anyone in a hospital catching the disease from those patients. That’s because of the infection prevention measures in place for staff and patients.

Their overall message to the public is the infection prevention rules work, we bent the curve before, and we can do it again. But everyone must do their part by wearing a mask and avoiding social gatherings, which are likely the main cause of the current rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. They hope elected leaders can reflect this urgency in their words and actions to their constituents.”