FCHD gives COVID-19 update to commission

Meghan Flynn
Colleen Drees, Finney County Health Department director, gives the Finney County Commission an update on the COVID-19 pandemic locally on Monday.

The Finney County Health Department gave an update on the COVID-19 situation at the Finney County Commission’s regular meeting Monday.

During the week of Sept. 21-25, the health department tested 368 people for the coronavirus. Of those, 49 were positive, for a positivity rate of 13%.

During that period, there was an average of 10.6 hospitalizations.

In the week of Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 287 people were tested. Of those, 39 were positive as of Monday, but over 50 results were still pending.

During that period there was an average of 14 hospitalizations.

Colleen Drees, Finney County Health Department director, said hospitalizations increased from Oct. 3-5.

On Oct. 3, there were 12 hospitalizations, and then on Oct. 4 there were 16, Drees said. Of those 16, the majority were positive for the coronavirus.

Some of the hospitalizations during Oct. 3-5 were people under investigation — those who have symptoms but have not yet been confirmed positive, Drees said.

The hospital had been at crisis capacity for the past two days, Drees said.

“Last week there’s about a space on six days that they were at crisis capacity, so it’s definitely something to know and be aware of,” she said.

Drees said crisis capacity is not just determined by how many COVID-19 patients are at the hospital but the number of beds that are open and staffing levels.

“If you have any staffing issues, that’s going to impact your crisis response,” she said. “The number of (admissions) at 16 or 17 is obviously concerning, but also for staff to be able to medically provide that oversight that is expected in these very complicated cases.”

The hospital received some additional staff from Centura to help care for patients and administrators believe the additional staff should help with whatever volume comes in, Drees said.

Additionally, the Finney County Jail has seen its first inmate test positive for the coronavirus, Drees said. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment was called and a representative was sent out to help put together a plan along with the health department, sheriff’s department, jail administration and nursing services.

“The initial part of the plan was to do testing on all of the jail staff and then all of the inmates,” she said. “I have yet to get the report of how many are positive so far of those, but we will then do another retesting, a surveillance testing, on day seven and then on day 14. As soon as we have the numbers of how many are positive that will also help ... defining what that plan is for continuing operations.”

The health department has also been affected with positive coronavirus cases among the staff, Drees said, nine of whom have tested positive.

“We will be doing similar testing as what the jail is. This week all of those that were negative will be tested again on day seven and then tested again on day 14,” she said. “Most of the staff that were positive, they will be returning on Friday, which is completing their 10-day quarantine.”

Because of the staffing shortage, the health department has limited services and had to reschedule its drive-thru flu clinic on Friday and Saturday for later this month.

In other business:

• Finney County engineer John Ellermann reported that the Farmland Road project is seeing movement with right-of-way and work continues on Jennie Barker Road.

• The commission approved a contract between the county and Future Energy Solutions for new lighting at the Law Enforcement Center.