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Local nonprofit stands to lose hundreds of thousands as a result of KDHE’s COVID-19 testing decision

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A Wichita organization pleaded with city and county leaders to find a solution to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s decision to stop funding mass COVID testing.

The two major factors causing the panic are speed and money. Heartspring, a local non-profit that provides services for special needs children and their families, said costs were piling up even before this decision was made. 

A spokesperson said if it is upheld, it will impact their ability to serve the community. 

“We’ve lost revenue due to COVID. We have added expenses due to COVID,” said Rachel Mayberry, senior director of public policy and communication at Heartspring.

She said paying for testing would be a hefty line item on the books.

“We’re looking at approximately a $300,000 a month bill from MDL,” she continued. 

Heartspring’s 500 employees serve 1,000 children from 17 counties. The organization tests employees twice a week to ensure everyone’s safety.

“If testing is moved to Topeka, in the past, we are seeing anywhere from three to five days turn around, and that’s a huge impact for someone who’s positive and doesn’t know,” Mulberry added.

Mayberry took those concerns to the city council on Tuesday, requesting American Rescue Plan Act funds to alleviate the cost.

“We haven’t really heard a whole lot about how their process is going to go,” commented Mayberry.

Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said the city is still working on a solution.

“The goal is to make sure that we have a plan in which people understand so they can apply for what they need and also still be within the regulations that are required not just at the city level, but also the federal level,” said Whipple. 

Meanwhile, Sedgwick County is trying to buy time. It has written letters to the governor and lawmakers in an attempt to keep the lab at WSU funded through May.  

“It’s a little bit of wait and see on stuff. so this next 20 days is pretty important,” said county commissioner Pete Meitzner. 

The funding for Wichita State’s lab will be cut effective Nov. 30. Mulberry said this resource has been vital in helping curb testing expenses since Heartspring didn’t qualify for most federal COVID-19 assistance.

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