Community entities gather for updates

City and community government, law enforcement and health care entities gave an update of where their department or organization stood in response to the COVID-19 crisis at a meeting Thursday in the Finney County Administrative Center.

Finney County Emergency Management Department

Stephen Green, Finney County Emergency Management director, said his department has reached out and had meetings with people in the public and private sector, addressing potential things that the county could be confronted within the future as the COVID-19 crisis evolves.

Finney County Health Department

Johanna Cornett, Finney County Health Department nurse practitioner, said there has been a change from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment — the county no longer has to go through KDHE to get permission to run a COVID-19 test.

“Our guidelines have kind of changed there, but we’re still continuing with the hotline, accessing people based off their symptoms and going from there,” she said.

St. Catherine Hospital

Terri Janda, director of quality and patient safety and risk management at St. Catherine Hospital, said the hospital has moved on to Phase Three.

“This means everyone who enters the building receives a temperature check, visitors are restricted to one per patient per day and any patients who are suspected or being evaluated for COVID-19 can have no visitors,” she said.

Additionally, the hospital restricted the cafeteria to no self-serve items, has removed cafeteria tables and moved them to be 6 feet apart, and restricted their use to family and visitors only.

They continue to provide the Finney County COVID-19 hotline coverage after hours and one weekends for Finney, Ford and Grant counties.

Finney County Emergency Medical Services Department

Skylar Swords, EMS director, said the department is doing temperature checks for all of its staff when they come on shift to make sure that if they have any issues, they can be sent home.

No one has failed a test yet, Swords said. There are contingency plans in place in the event the department starts losing staff to COVID-19.

Dispatch has a questionnaire its staff can ask anyone who calls 911 to identify if anyone is a potential COVID-19 risk so that EMS can get that information before responding and can have personal protective equipment in place for the staff and the patient, Swords said.

Additionally the department has canceled all of its social gatherings and meetings.

Garden City Police Department

Garden City Police Chief Michael Utz said the GCPD is following social distancing at the office and when it responds to calls.

Utz said when they get calls about instances where there’s no evidence and no suspects they give the caller the option to have an officer come out or to speak to one over the phone.

“If we do respond we’re going to keep our distance and we have put that on our social media as well to let folks know,” he said.

The officers also have PPE available to them and if they respond and help in an EMS situation, they will be wearing masks and gloves.

Utz said they ask people not to panic, it’s just a precautionary measure.

“We're out there on the front lines and we still have a service to provide to the community and we're going to keep providing that service,” he said. “We're still going to calls, we've just changed some of our operations just to internally limit meetings.”

The GCPD has also canceled its training and other events.

Finney County Sheriff’s Office

Mike Warren, undersheriff with the Finney County Sheirff’s Office, said it is operating “pretty much the same” as the GCPD.

The sheriff’s office also has asked other agencies to limit their number of arrests unless absolutely necessary.

Garden City Fire Department

Garden City Fire Chief Bill Beaty said the GCFD is also operating similar to EMS and law enforcement.

“We’ve limited our interactions with community tours and things like that, we've pretty much closed our building to the outside world,” he said. “We've our phone number online, so people can still reach us, ask questions if they need to and remind them to call 911 if necessary.”

When they go on calls, Beaty said, they’re changing it up a little bit. They will continue to go out, but if they don’t need to send eight people into a building they won’t, they’ll send in one or two to check what’s going on and then respond accordingly.


Sara McClure, Finney County communications specialist and project manager, said the communications objectives remain the same — putting out information from the health department, KDHE and the CED onto the Finney County website and the health department’s website and social media to keep the public informed with updated information.

“We’re trying to keep everyone updated on what's happening at the state level with recommendations from KDHE and CDC and how that's effecting what we're doing in terms of the potentially coronavirus-exposed patients in Finney County,” she said. “And we’re trying to remind everybody how they should be operating within those recommendations and trying to help them in how they can be operating and keeping them apprised of the governor's orders and those kinds of things.”