TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Laura Howard announced today that one female staff member at Larned State Hospital (LSH) has tested positive for COVID-19. This is the first positive case at LSH in either residents or staff.
The staff member works in the Psychiatric Services Program (PSP). Her last day on campus was Saturday, April 18. To protect her identity, no further information will be released.
KDADS and LSH officials, including the hospital’s infection control nurse, are in contact with Kansas Department for Health and Environment (KDHE) officials and Pawnee County Health Department about guidance and the next steps to address these circumstances.
“The hospital in Larned had a detailed pandemic plan in place prior to the introduction of COVID-19 into our communities, so they are prepared to adapt and respond quickly to this very unfortunate circumstance,” Secretary Howard said. “Things like frequent cleaning of high-touch areas are already being done every four hours and staff wearing face coverings was implemented two weeks ago. I’m confident the staff and leadership at LSH will implement further safety measures to protect residents and patients quickly and effectively.”
The hospital began screening all staff on March 27, 2020, monitoring temperatures upon entry into the facility and has been taking patient and resident temperatures twice a day. Taking patient temperatures and monitoring for signs and symptoms in the area where the staff member worked has become more frequent.
The positive test has prompted hospital officials to move into Phase 3 of their pandemic plan. Containment measures are included in that phase of the plan, and in the event of an infected staff member, includes assigning staff to specific units or buildings to reduce staff movement from unit to unit where possible. The hospital is also considering modifications to schedules to keep the staff from moving between units. All patients in the PSP are being encouraged to wear face masks.
Additionally, LSH has identified isolation units where patients or residents could be moved in the event there would be a positive patient or resident case. The nursing department sought staff volunteers who are being trained to work the isolation units, and on-campus housing is available for those staff in the event they do not want to return home and expose their families or community.
All staff at LSH has been notified and staff who work directly in the area affected will be asked to self-monitor for symptoms and to take their temperature twice a day.
For current information on COVID-19 in Kansas, and to sign up for updates, go to the KDHE COVID-19 Resource Center at kdhe.ks.gov/coronavirus.