Oct 15, 2020 8:50 PM

Degner: Minimize spread to keep all healthcare available

Posted Oct 15, 2020 8:50 PM

By NICK GOSNELL

Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Dr. Rex Degner with Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System notes that the personnel situation for healthcare workers isn't the same as it was when the hospital made its initial plan about how it would deal with a surge in COVID-19 cases.

"We developed a large surge plan back in the spring that we could handle a very significant number of COVID patients at any one time, up to 40 or 50 if we really had to," Degner said. "That was back in a time when our census was very low because people were not coming in for their other health care. Now they are. We still have a plan to handle a significant number of COVID patients, our problem is, we do not have as many staff that we could draw on."

The idea was that if necessary, medical staff from the clinics in town could have been pressed into service. Now, they are busy with their own clientele.

"We don't want to have to take the step of saying, if you have an elective surgery, maybe we should be putting that off til a later date, so that we can take care of the most acute things that are going on right now," Degner said. "We are not at that point yet, but we are brushing up against it, to a degree."

It's always a concern that a healthcare worker might catch the virus out in the community, but infection control measures appear to be working inside the hospital itself.

"To our knowledge, we've not had a known spread within the hospital as far as someone catching it from a patient or from a healthcare worker to another healthcare worker within our walls," Degner said.

Hospital CEO Ken Johnson had COVID-19 earlier this year. He got it from a family member.