TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Many hospitals and doctor’s offices in Kansas are limiting patients to only those with medical emergencies. This is to help lower the number of people potentially spreading or coming in contact with the coronavirus.
The health care industry relies on non-emergency services, like elective surgeries and routine appointments, to survive. Right now, that money isn’t coming in, which is putting a big strain on hospitals across the state, but especially those in rural areas.
“It has been a very financially difficult time for hospitals statewide,” explained Cindy Samuelson, VP of the Kansas Hospital Association. “That really are reliant on that incoming, regular patient activity, to continue to keep their doors open and provide care for their communities.”
Through the CARES Act, Kansas hospitals have received money from the Federal Government to keep things running as well as funding from the State Government, but it is not enough.
“Hospitals have been very grateful for that support because they really do need it,” said Samuelson. “But it doesn’t close the gap.”
Other health care industries, such as Kansas dentists, are getting no federal help.
“Everybody’s concerned,” said Dr. Allen Reavis, President of the Kansas Dental Association (KDA).
Dr. Reavis said, like Kansas hospitals, most dental offices are only seeing emergency patients, which is putting a major financial strain on Kansas dental facilities. The KDA is planning to develop guidelines for safely reopening dental officers to non-emergency patients. This will include suggestions like keeping at-risk patients home, extra cleaning of offices and choosing what patients need to be seen most urgently.
“It takes into account, as the PPEs get more appropriate and in better supply, as testing and vaccinations all come down the road, it phases things in along those lines,” added Dr. Reavis.
The Kansas Hospital Association is also looking at ways to slowly reintroduce non-emergency patients. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) has released guidelines for health care facilities. Under those guidelines, it says non-emergency services can resume only when states have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and coronavirus testing supplies. It also says that the number of cases in the state should be going down.