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An employee of Parsons Presbyterian Manor, 3501 Dirr, tested positive for COVID-19 this week. The employee lives in Crawford County and her positive test was recorded there.

The Labette County emergency planning committee discussed the positive test Tuesday morning in its daily video-conference call. 

Lisa Stivers, the Labette County Health Department administrator, said her department and the Crawford County Health Department have been working together since Monday night to contact people who may have had contact with the patient, who was identified by Crawford County as a woman under age 60. The health guideline is that a person is likely to contract the disease if in contact for 10 minutes and within 6 feet of an ill person.

Stivers said nursing home staff who may have had contact with the ill employee have been quarantined. She said there are now 24 people in Labette County who are in quarantine and four of those will come out of quarantine Wednesday if they remain symptom free.

She said Crawford County called at 5:03 p.m. Monday and had notified all but three people on the woman’s contact list.

“We are fielding a ton of calls this morning from people who believe that they were in contact with her and that they should be placed in quarantine. So we are still working with this. As far as contacts that she has given, I talked to the nursing home yesterday (and) those have been placed in quarantine. So we are just fielding these calls and trying to look at if there’s any more contacts that may have been forgotten,” Stivers said.

Rebecca Adamson, Crawford County Health Department administrator, did not return a phone call.

Maegen Pegues, Presbyterian Manager executive director, provided a written response that was also posted on the Manor’s Facebook page. Pegues wrote that the non-direct care staff member is in isolation and quarantined at home.

“Our top priority is the safety of our residents and staff members,” said Jeanne Gerstenkorn, PMMA’s infection preventionist and vice president for health and wellness. “We were notified by the Crawford County Health Department on Monday that a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19. This person is not involved in direct patient care and has not been symptomatic.”

The facility staff worked to ensure resident and staff safety, according to the release. All residents are in isolation for the next 14 days and are being checked at each shift change for symptoms of COVID-19 or fever. Residents were already being checked daily for fever and symptoms of COVID-19.

Residents’ families have been alerted to the potential exposure.

All staff members are following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as these are continually updated, including reminding all staff not to come to work if they are experiencing symptoms of a respiratory illness or not feeling well. The employee did not report feeling ill and has not had a fever (some people who test positive for COVID-19 are asymptomatic). The employee has been wearing a mask while performing duties in accordance with the CDC guidelines. Staff who had contact with the infected staff member have been placed on 14-day self-isolation and are monitored for symptoms, the release said. 

Brad Radatz, regional operations director for Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America, said the Manor has eight quarantined dining services staff members in Parsons.

“Labette Health is providing assistance with preparing lunch and dinner each day, and their partnership is greatly appreciated,” Radatz said.

He said employee screening continues at the start of each shift. Staff members are asked a series of questions to determine health status, recent travel history and COVID-19 exposure risks. Their temperatures are also taken. Any “yes” answer results in additional questions, he said. Employees with symptoms outside of what they normally experience (asthma, for example) or running a temperature are not allowed to work, Radatz said.

On Tuesday’s video-conference call, a staff member at another nursing home in the county was concerned about a therapy company shared among several facilities, including the Manor. Pegues said all therapists, doctors and health service providers who come to the Manor are being monitored as is the staff at the beginning of each shift per CDC guidelines.

Stivers also updated the group on Kansas cases, which the Kansas Department of Health and Environment updated Tuesday afternoon. Statewide there are 98 confirmed cases spread among 18 counties. Most of the cases are in Johnson and Wyandotte counties, 36 and 22, respectively. The two cases in Crawford County, announced on Monday, won’t be added to the state total until the test results are verified by the KDHE lab, according to KDHE Communications Director Kristi Zears.

Stivers noted that KDHE added two states, Illinois and New Jersey, to the mandatory 14-day quarantine if you visited them on or after Monday. KDHE also revised its testing protocol because of a shortage of lab supplies and reagent used in the testing. The patient must be a health care worker or first responder with COVID-19 symptoms, part of a cluster of respiratory illnesses in long-term facilities or other health care facilities, a hospitalized patient with no alternative diagnosis, a patient over age 60 with symptoms with priority given to those living in a nursing home, long-term care facility or other congregate setting, or people with a pre-existing condition that would require being treated differently if infected with COVID-19. 

Stivers repeated what she’s said for sometime now that testing going to private labs does not have those same restrictions. Physicians’ offices generally use the private labs.

As of Monday afternoon, Labette Health sent out 29 samples and is waiting on 11 of them. Most of these are going to a lab on the East Coast and the turnaround is from 48 hours up to five days.

Charlie Morse, Labette County Emergency Management director, reviewed executive orders issued by Gov. Laura Kelly. On Tuesday afternoon, Kelly restricted mass gatherings to 10 people. Also this week, the governor allowed for extensions for those needing to renew vehicle tags or driver’s licenses that expire in March and who cannot get these renewals accomplished because of the pandemic. Qualifying residents have 60 days to complete those tasks after the executive order expires.

The deadline for filing income taxes has been pushed out to July 15, he said. Foreclosures and evictions that are tied to the pandemic are on hold, though Morse said this may not apply to everyone.

Requests to the state for resources are on hold until the state can get its new system online for handling these requests, Morse said. He said about 14 counties have dine-in restriction orders now, offering only curbside or takeout. Stay home orders are in place in Miami, Leavenworth, Douglas, Doniphan, Johnson, Wyandotte and Atchison counties starting Tuesday. Residents in those counties can still go to work, the grocery story, the doctor and the pharmacist.

Lisa Wenger, facility administrator for DaVita kidney care on the Labette Health campus, said for the last week and a half no visitors have been allowed in the facility. Staff screens every person, employee, patient or doctor, who comes in asking if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or a temperature. The facility has guidelines to follow if someone does have symptoms. 

“We still have to dialyze patients regardless,” she said.

If a person has symptoms, he or she would be run on the third shift an hour and a half after every other patient is out of building. Then no one can be run on that station for 210 minutes, “which wouldn’t be a problem anyway.” If numerous patients have a positive diagnosis, the center in Independence would take them Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Morse said he’s still working on a transportation issue for dialysis patients who cannot use public transportation if they have symptoms.

Rob Poole from the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas updated the group on changes at facilities in SEK, including Parsons.

Some clinics will have tents in front to screen patients before they enter the building. The screening process may include a temperature check.

CHC’s information line is staffed 24 hours a day with nurses to answer questions and screen patients concerned about exposure to the virus. The toll-free number is 866-888-8650.

On Tuesday, the agency began seeing patients through e-visits. Patients can be seen by their health care provider from home via a smartphone or other device using an internet or data connection. E-visits are a convenient option for patients who are generally in good health.

Stacie Cloud, administrator of Oswego Health and Rehab, said some facility nurses were running fevers Monday night. She and Morse both hoped it was the seasonal flu.

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