Kansas Governor Moves To Help Facilities Affected By COVID Outbreak | Kansas News
By JOHN HANNA and HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH, Associated Press
TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) – Governor Laura Kelly on Thursday relaxed or suspended Kansas licensing rules for medical staff and nursing home workers in the hopes of making it easier for them to tackle drug shortages. staff during a wave of new COVID-19 cases.
Kelly issued two executive orders. One allows hospital staff to perform a wider range of tasks. The other relaxes the licensing of nursing home workers so that homes can hire people whose licenses have expired and take less skilled jobs with workers who have relatively little or no prior training.
His actions come as hospital officials say patients are dying in emergency rooms at small hospitals, large hospitals grapple with rising staff absences, and ambulances scramble to find hospitals with room for their patients.
“Basically everyone is drowning,” said Dr. Ryan Jacobsen, medical director for Johnson County EMS.
The governor has declared an emergency for the next 15 days due to the stress facing hospital nursing homes, a move that has allowed him to relax licensing requirements. The statement also suspends regulation or regulatory law if “strict compliance” would hamper efforts to resolve their issues.
“This disaster declaration offers a 15-day solution to give our frontline health workers the support they need as they battle this wave of COVID-19,” Kelly said in a statement.
Kansas set a record for the seven-day average of new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases reported, 4,311 cases per day for the seven days ending Wednesday, according to data from the state’s health department. Until this week, the previous record was 2,767 cases per day for the seven days ending November 18, 2020.
The high spread of COVID-19 has prompted Wyandotte County to delay a manslaughter trial scheduled to start there next week for a rural Kansas sub-sheriff accused of shooting an unarmed man with a bag of beans. Virgil Brewer was the Barber County Under-Sheriff at the time of the deadly meeting with Steven Myers on October 6, 2017, outside a Sun City County hangar. No new trial date has been set immediately.
In neighboring Johnson County, Jacobsen said ambulances frequently changed direction when transporting patients because the hospital they were heading to was full, sometimes confusing family members following them.
“They call the next hospital, three and four hospitals, as they drive down the freeway or the road with the patient in the back, listening to the conversation on the radio where they say, ‘Don’t bring them, don’t don’t bring them, don’t bring them, ”he said.
State emergency management laws limit Kelly’s latest statement to 15 days unless lawmakers extend it, and the Democratic governor has said she wants to keep it in place until March. The Republican-controlled legislature opens its annual ordinary session on Monday.
Kansas was in a state of emergency from March 2020 to June 2021. Lawmakers revised state emergency management laws in 2020 and 2021 to restrict the governor’s power so Kelly could not close schools or businesses or re-restrict public gatherings, as it did earlier in the pandemic.
And while Kansas has seen a record number of new cases, it hasn’t seen such a big spike in hospitalizations or deaths.
Yet the warnings from Kansas hospitals have grown increasingly severe.
Jacobsen said that when half of the Kansas City area hospitals turn patients away because of high volumes, ambulances take patients to full hospitals anyway because there is no choice.
He said the system hits that point almost every day, adding that even hospitals that don’t turn away patients are warning they don’t have beds or their CT scanners aren’t available.
“It’s exhausting and it leads to burnout and it’s a mess,” he said.
The University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, treats 133 COVID-19 patients, has 750 employees due to COVID-19 and had to cancel half of its scheduled operations on Wednesday.
“These are people who need surgery,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr Steve Stites. “It’s not like it’s elective cases that somebody just wants to do, you know, a tummy tuck.”
Hollingsworth made a Mission report. Roxana Hegeman in Wichita also contributed.
Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.