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Rural hospital prepares for critical coronavirus cases

Coronavirus in Kansas

ROOKS CO., Kan. (KSNW) – The coronavirus pandemic is leaving rural Kansas hospitals with many questions like what happens if they reach capacity or what to do if staff members get sick.

“We’ve made the best plans that we can, given the situations,” said Rooks County Health Center Dr. Beth Oller, MD.

Like many rural hospitals, the concern in Rooks County is how to be ready if critical Coronavirus cases come their way.

“Certainly never thought that I would possibly be a leader in a hospital system and having to say to staff, I don’t have the equipment that I want you to have,” said Oller.

The need for more ventilators, tests, beds, and protective gear or having more than one respiratory therapist and more staff, all issues the hospital has to navigate. 

“It’s not that people don’t have the knowledge, you don’t have the equipment, you don’t have the personnel you know trained to do ICU nursing, you don’t have the monitoring that you want to have,” she said.

Typically, larger facilities like Hays, Salina, or Wichita are where Rooks County Hospital sends those who are in critical condition, but those hospitals are now limiting who can be transferred.

“What is horrifying is I can look at them, diagnose them, say what they need and not be able to do it and that’s not something that providers in this country are used to saying,” she said.

Since Rooks County doesn’t have an intensive care unit, having several critical cases could be difficult, which has officials urging residents from counties without a positive case to take precautions seriously because it could help prevent hospitals from becoming overflowed.

“It’s so important right now that we are practicing those things because the first positive test will come,” she said.

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