To The Sun:

I am appealing to our friends and neighbors in Southeast Kansas to do the right thing to slow the spread of COVID-19 and get our economy more fully open. As we see in the news, the Asia economy is resuming and actually growing while the U.S. and European economies are actually shrinking. I want to confirm for your readers that while we are handling the volume of patients coming to the hospital, it is taking a toll on our resources and our staff. We have added a second shift of hospitalist physicians, which adds to their already busy clinic work taking time away from their families and putting them in harm’s way caring for COVID-19 positive patients. We have added nurses and pulled, at times, from all departments to care for the surge in patients. Our intensive care unit at times has been at 100% capacity. Our average daily census is averaging much higher than normal due most likely to many people delaying care during the pandemic and then coming to the hospital when they are very sick. 

In addition to all of this, approximately 15 to 25% of our patients being admitted are COVID-19 patients who require five times the normal length of stay and five times the resources, so we have the perfect storm for a surge stretching our resources. 

This is not unique to Labette Health as it is happening in Joplin, Kansas City, Wichita, Tulsa and Springfield.  One thing that concerns us immensely is that the flu season is not upon us yet, and we are seeing these surges all across the Midwest.

My appeal is to you as Americans, citizens of the community and humans who care for others. Please do the following out of respect for our brave staff members that are risking their lives to save us each and every day of this pandemic:

— Wear a mask and wear it correctly covering your nose and mouth;

— Social distance whenever possible;

— Wash your hands;

— Take the flu shot;

— Do not delay care to the point it results in a hospital admission.

Don’t stop living and working, but please let us modify our lives to help one another get through this sooner and with less of a negative impact on our economy and human lives.

Thank you for your kind consideration of this request. — BRIAN WILLIAMS, Labette Health CEO

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