No cases yet in Brown, Nemaha counties: Authorities take action to protect population, mitigate spread of novel coronavirus

The number of positive cases of the novel coronavirus – COVID-19 – continues to increase rapidly throughout the State of Kansas and United States. While there have not been any confirmed cases in Nemaha or Brown counties as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, multiple counties in northeast Kansas continue to have new cases or their county’s first positive case(s).

Dr. Christian Tramp said local medical personnel currently are preparing for COVID-19 in our own communities.

“Local hospitals, medical staff and public health personnel continue to urgently make preparations to adequately respond to the potential needs of the community as the virus comes upon us,” Dr. Tramp said.

Cases in the State of Kansas have continued to increase since the onset of the virus with the biggest jump of positive cases – 18 – being on Monday, March 23. Currently, 98 Kansas residents – 41 females and 57 males – have tested positive for COVID-19, while two out-of-state residents have tested positive while in the State of Kansas, bringing the total number of cases in Kansas to 100.

As of Tuesday, March 24, there are a total of 44,183 confirmed cases in the United States, which have resulted in 544 deaths.

Across the community, state and nation, the primary goal at this time is to protect public health by minimizing the spread of COVID- 19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus, and the goal right now, is to minimize the spread, or “flatten the curve.”

Dr. Tramp with Sabetha Family practice said everyone needs to be doing their part.

“Cases of COVID-19 continue to increase in the state including northeast Kansas,” Dr. Tramp said. “Some counties have already instituted a ‘shelter in place’ order. It is so important for everyone in this community to do their part to follow the social distancing and personal responsibilities guidelines.”

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Spread of the virus is most likely between people who are in close contact with one another – within about six feet.

Currently, the KDHE is mandating a 14-day home quarantine for Kansans whom have traveled to certain areas. As this information is constantly changing, please see the KDHE website — www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus — for updated mandates.

PREVENTION

To protect yourself and others, the following guidance is provided by the Centers for Disease Control:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

• If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow.

• Throw used tissues in the trash.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.

• If surfaces are dirty, clean them.

• Put distance between yourself and other people.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Stay home if you are sick, except to seek medical care.

• If seeking medical care, call ahead – allowing medical personnel to prepare for proper personal coverings, assistance and placement of the patient upon arrival.

• If you are sick, you should wear a facemask when you are around other people.

To prepare for a potential situation in which you are unable to obtain medicine, food or supplies:

• Shop with a purpose and aim for a seven- to 14-day supply of medicine, food and household supplies.

• Make sure your prescriptions are stocked and up to date.

• Create a supply kit that includes water or hydrating drinks, non-perishable food, and fever reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

SYMPTOMS

The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Patients with COVID-19 have experienced mild to severe respiratory symptoms. Symptoms can include, but are not limited to the following:

• Fever higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit

• Cough

• Shortness of breath

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, seek medical attention immediately. In adults, emergency warning signs include the following:

• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

• Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

• New confusion or inability to arouse

• Bluish lips or face.

LOCAL HEALTH

Nemaha County Community Health Services

The Nemaha County Community Health Services (NCCHS) facilities remain open to the public; however, they are restricting some appointments. Currently, they are scheduling Women, Infants and Children (WIC) immunization and breastfeeding clinic appointments. In order to decrease face-to-face time, NCCHS is completing some parts of the appointments over the phone.

NCCHS is also taking certain infection control measures during immunization appointments. WIC appointments are completed over the phone, if possible, and breastfeeding clinic appointments are completed over the phone or through video phone call. Visits to the breastfeeding clinic will be allowed if there is an urgent need.

As of Monday, March 23, NCCHS has not tested any COVID-19 patients in their facility.

Sabetha Community Hospital/Sabetha Family Practice

The Sabetha Community Hospital and Sabetha Family Practice currently is not allowing visitors, with the exception of one significant other for obstetric patients and end-of-life patients. Furthermore, elective surgeries have either been canceled or postponed, along with many outpatient clinics.

SCH is asking lab and radiology patients to enter through the front main door entrance, while therapy, occupational assessment (work physical), infusion clinic and specialty clinic patients should enter through the southeast entrance under the brick canopy.

As for testing for COVID-19, SCH is following the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) guidelines. Anyone who needs outpatient testing can have it done outside the facility. Emergency Room (ER) patients have designated rooms, as well as medical patients. SCH also has isolation areas for ER and hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, March 24, SCH confirmed that they have tested two patients for COVID-19 and both of those cases came back negative.

Hiawatha Community Hospital

Effective Friday, March 20, Hiawatha Community Hospital (HCH) has canceled elective surgeries at HCH. Effective Tuesday, March 24, HCH will be implementing complete visitor restrictions to protect the health of their patients and health care staff.

HCH will not be discontinuing outpatient services such as lab, radiology, therapy, pain management and specialty clinic. Patients scheduled for family practice clinic, lab, radiology, pain management, therapy, some specialty clinic and other services will be screened, their temperature taken and will have a sticker indicating the screening process has been completed.

To ensure the health and safety of their patients and staff, HCH, HCH Family Practice Clinic and HCH Highland Clinic are limiting the number of persons accompanying clinic patients and outpatients. They are asking that only the patient and one parent or guardian accompany the patient to their appointment.

HCH is not allowing visits to inpatients with the exceptions of one person for pediatric patients, ER patients, patients on end-of-life care and laboring mothers.

HCH staff will be monitoring the east and west entrance and ER entrance. Therapy patients will enter the southwest door. Those patients will be screened by the respective staff.

Currently, the HCH cafeteria is closed to the public.

HCH asks that patients with COVID-19 symptoms call before coming to the hospital or clinic, so HCH can take extra precautions. Their phone number is 785-742-2131.

According to HCH, as of Monday, March 23, nine drive-by collections have been completed. Four have tested positive for other illnesses, which rules out COVID-19. Eight tests have been sent to the state. Six have been negative, and two are pending state report. As of Monday, March 23, there has not been a positive case in Brown County.

Wetmore Clinic

As of Friday, March 20, Wetmore Clinic, which is run by Holton Community Hospital and Family Practice Associates, will be closed until April 1, 2020.

KDHE Testing Guidelines

Testing for COVID-19 patients is done according to the KDHE guidelines, which can be found at www.kdheks.gov. KDHE is testing at this time, and turn around is usually three to four days.

Editors Note: The Herald reached out the Nemaha Valley Community Hospital and NEK Multi-County Health and did not receive a response back.

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