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Uptick in rural COVID-19 patients at Wichita hospital

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Sedgwick County hospitals are treating more than 50 COVID-19 patients, but a quarter of them are not from the area.

Dr. Chloe Steinshouer is a pulmonary and critical care physician at Wesley.  

She said she has seen a notable increase in patients from rural Kansas coming to Wesley hospital. For many, it’s the only place available to receive treatment. 

“Lots of areas of Kansas that don’t have these higher level facilities,” said Dr. Steinshouer.

Rural hospitals can become overwhelmed or lack specialty services to manage patients that are hospitalized.

Right now, Dr. Steinshouer said many of the patients are coming from southwest Kansas.

There are facilities in western Kansas, like Southwest Medical Center in Liberal, but it can only hold about 20 COVID-19 patients. 

“When the center is full, that’s when we start reaching out to surrounding areas, primarily Wichita,” said patient care vice president Robin Allaman.

While it’s a beneficial resource for those from rural areas who need care, Dr. Steinshouer said it can sometimes be exhausting for staff at Wesley.

“Some don’t survive the illness and those are hard for us to handle and you know each one hurts,” said Steinshouer.

As we head into the final three months of the year, Steinshouer hopes the COVID-19 numbers remain manageable. 

“As we prepare for what would typically be our flu season, we’re hoping to keep our COVID burden under control,” she said. 

Dr. Steinshouer said if we are going to see an increase in positive cases, it would likely be over the next two weeks.


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