May 22, 2020 4:08 PM

Baldetti says county is ready to write its own policy if bill is signed

Posted May 22, 2020 4:08 PM

By NICK GOSNELL

Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Reno County's health officer says the county is ready to write its own policy regarding COVID-19.

"There was a large group of Reno County constituents and business leaders that came together as the Reno County Recovery Task Force," Baldetti said. "It was a marathon two weeks, but within that span of two weeks, the framework for what was thought to be a responsible plan moving forward specifically for Reno County was set forth."

The bill passed by the Kansas Legislature Friday says in part, "The board of county commissioners of any county may issue an order relating to public health that includes provisions that are less stringent than the provisions of an executive order effective statewide issued by the governor. Any board of county commissioners issuing such an order must make a finding based upon advice from the local health officer or other local health officials that the scope of the provisions in the governor's executive order are not necessary to protect the public health and safety of the county to be implemented in the county."

Baldetti would like to see serious consultation with the health care community when setting policy parameters for what would be needed to close things again once they have opened.

"If we have X number of hospitalizations, X number of ventilations and X number of disease spread, that's data that we can specifically track," Baldetti said. "We should take that to the table with the health care system and say how do you feel the activity is happening within the bounds of your purviews."

As an example, Hutchinson Regional Medical Center has two potential wards for COVID patients.

"If one of those wards were to begin to fill up, which would be about half of the intake bed capacity associated with COVID-19, the hospital staff, their protocol is to raise the alarm bell, so to speak," Baldetti said.

The hospital hasn't come close to those numbers, thus far.