Labette Health’s trustees listened Thursday evening to an hour’s worth of department reviews for 2020, including the hospital’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

December and January were bad months in the hospital for families of COVID-19 patients and hospital staff. In December, 11 patients died of COVID and one died post-COVID. In January, nine patients died of COVID and three died post-COVID, trustees heard. November saw two deaths, one of COVID and one post-COVID. October saw one COVID death. Families suffer through the generally isolated hospitalization of a loved one with COVID. The hospital staff providing the care, sometimes for a month at a time, also grieve with the family during this time as staff get to know the patients and families.

Kathi McKinney, vice president and chief nursing officer, presented these numbers to trustees during the annual meeting where they review hospital operations. McKinney was one of a handful of administrators presenting information. Her report focused on risk management and the response to COVID-19.

McKinney said hospital physicians and staff hoped to avoid the death rates from COVID that larger cities experienced. 

Labette Health CEO Brian Williams said Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were “really hard” at the hospital and for ICU nurses.

“This hospital in its history has never seen so much death in that short of a time,” Williams said. “We lost a lot of really good people, a lot of good lives in Southeast Kansas.”

Added McKinney: “In the 34 years I’ve worked I’ve never seen this amount of death.”

Williams hopes to honor those lost to the pandemic in Labette County at some point.

McKinney said the hospital has treated a total of 191 COVID-19 patients during the pandemic. The peak patient census was 44 on Jan. 6, with COVID patients making up about 12 of those. The hospital made shift adjustments to care for COVID patients, she said, adding two nurses per shift because of the volume of care the patients required.

The hospital also tested many people for COVID-19. McKinney said as of March 19 that 24,276 COVID specimens for testing had been collected by Labette Health. Of those specimens, 22,508 were tested at Cytocheck in Parsons and 1,768 by the hospital lab. December had the largest number of specimens collected and tested at 4,881.

The hospital still screens visitors to the facility. As of Friday, the Labette County Health Department reported 16 active COVID cases in the county and 2,625 cases since the pandemic began. The virus killed 49 county residents.

The hospital has moved into the vaccination phase of the pandemic and offers vaccine through its satellite clinics. It receives its vaccine from the Health Department. 

McKinney said the hospital began administering monoclonal antibodies to help COVID-19 patients fight the virus on Dec. 9. In Parsons, 64 doses of the Bamlanivivmab treatment, which received emergency use authorization from the FDA, were administered. She said 40 doses were administered in Independence.

“I believe it was a lifesaving treatment that we started here,” McKinney said.

She also told trustees about risk management and complaints/grievances investigated. She said if staff hears about a patient being dissatisfied with their stay she wants staff to talk with them to find out why they felt that way and learn how to make the situation better.

“There’s always a lesson to be learned there,” McKinney said.

In 2020, there were 14 complaints and 48 grievances on record. In 2019, there were 24 complaints and 44 grievances. In 2018, there were 19 complaints and 41 grievances.  

McKinney also wanted the community to know how much the hospital staff appreciated the support, the meals, donuts and other food brought out during the pandemic. 

Dee Bohnenblust, vice president of the board, said: “What an impactful report. And what a reflection of our health care heroes at all levels.”


Other reports:

— Marketing Director Kerri Beardmore said an average of 60 volunteers logged 3,000 hours in 2020 and 12 volunteers donated 5,300 hours toward making masks for patients and visitors. The hospital auxiliary also held fairs and sales to benefit the hospital. The auxiliary also donated $2,500 in scholarships and $25,000 to the hospital foundation’s capital campaign. Marketing continued to advertise in newspapers and other media during the pandemic. Beardmore said the hospital now has more than 20 billboards in Southeast Kansas touting the hospital’s services.

— Foundation Executive Director Anthony Vaughan said the capital campaign for Independence Healthcare Center was 24% complete in December raising $241,871.80 with a goal of $1 million. The campaign for Labette Health was 70% complete in December, raising $2,773,528.13 toward a $4 million goal. The foundation also received a number of grants in 2020, the largest of which was from the FCC for $109,344 that supported Labette Health’s telehealth push during the pandemic. The summer meal program served 35,010 meals to kids last summer and he expects it to serve more this summer. A grant from the Parsons Area Community Foundation helps that program. The foundation’s gala will be Sept. 11, which will serve two purposes including celebrating the hospital’s 60th year of operation.

— Human Resources Director Chris Sykes reported that the hospital’s turnover rate was 16.2% in 2020. The first-year turnover rate was 27% in 2020, down from 28% in 2019 and 34.8% in 2018. She said that reflects better staff training and a better selection process. But she said openings bring in more applications than they have in the past. Labette Health received 1,791 applications in 2020. In 2014, the hospital received 831 applications for openings.

— Quality Director Tereasa DeMeritt talked about quality assurance. Her department works to limit readmissions and improve safety measures throughout the hospital.  The hospital’s infection free rates are near 100% for surgeries and inpatients. The Hospital Acquired Infection reduction program did get a 1% penalty from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for this fiscal year, which is $104,000, for two to four patients who had C-diff. Williams pointed out that this was not a hospital acquired infection, though, because the patients had the infection before they came into the hospital. The issue related to documenting that illness. He said he was less concerned about a documentation error than a harm that comes to a patient in the hospital. The hospital also received a 2.68% incentive for its value-based purchasing program that brought in $71,000.

— Doug Stacy, vice president, Labette Health Medical Group, discussed information technology. He said Dr. Jacqueline Youtsos has been busy since opening her dermatology office at Labette Health. She is in the office the first Thursday of every month. This week, her fourth time in the office at Labette Health, she had 40 patients in the office. “So it’s just been very well received and she’s doing great,” Stacy said.

— Brock Sutherland, facilities management director, reviewed his activities for the year and the machinery and facilities he oversees.

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