Lawrence’s hospital begins asking screening questions, cancels upcoming elective procedures

photo by: Chris Conde

THe LMH Health hospital is pictured in a file photo from October 2018.

Story updated at 3:43 p.m. Tuesday

Lawrence’s hospital has begun asking visitors screening questions, and it is now imposing a limit of one visitor per patient.

LMH Health announced the measures Tuesday afternoon immediately after Lawrence’s health department announced the county’s first confirmed case of the coronavirus, COVID-19.

Hospital spokeswoman Rebecca Smith said that patients and visitors will be met by two LMH Health staff members who will share information about their procedures and ask screening questions to learn, for example, if the person has recently traveled to a state with known widespread community transmission. The hospital will not be taking temperatures at the door, Smith said.

LMH Health also announced that it will restrict visitation to one designated visitor per patient. Visitors must have a photo ID.

As the Journal-World previously reported, the hospital is not permitting any visitors under the age of 18, as well as those with respiratory symptoms or those who recently traveled to a confirmed coronavirus outbreak area.

The hospital, 325 Maine St., has also reduced its number of entrances to three. Visitors and patients will be allowed to enter through the Emergency Department, the 4th Street Health Plaza or the Arkansas Street entrance.

“We understand that connecting with family members is very important,” the hospital said in a news release. “We encourage electronic means whenever possible. Very rare exceptions may be made in extenuating circumstances.”

Earlier Tuesday, the hospital announced it was canceling elective surgeries and endoscopy procedures for most of the next month, amid concerns about the pandemic’s strain on the nation’s health care system.

Such elective procedures will be canceled beginning Wednesday through April 8. The hospital said the decision, which is based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was made following a meeting of its medical staff Monday.

The hospital said affected patients’ providers will contact them to discuss rescheduling.


More coverage: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the pandemic continues, the Journal-World will be making coverage of COVID-19 available outside of the paywall on LJWorld.com.

Find all coverage of city, county and state responses to the virus at: ljworld.com/coronavirus/


What to do if you think you may have COVID-19

Patients who have symptoms — difficulty breathing, cough and fever — should stay home, immediately isolate themselves from others and call their health care providers. Patients should never show up unannounced at a medical office or hospital. Instead, they should call ahead to explain their symptoms and give health care workers the ability to minimize the risk to others.

If patients do not have health care providers, they may call the Lawrence Douglas-County health department’s coronavirus line, 785-856-4343.

For updated information on the outbreak, Kansas residents can email COVID-19@ks.gov or call 866-534-3463 (866-KDHEINF), which is staffed 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

More information can be found through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s website or the Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health website.

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