4 die from the coronavirus at Kansas rehabilitation facility

photo by: Associated Press

A medical worker administers a test for coronavirus at a drive-up testing center at GraceMed Health Clinic in Wichita, Kan., Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle via AP)

Story updated at 2:08 p.m. Tuesday

MISSION — A rehabilitation facility in Kansas City, Kan., where four people have died of COVID-19 is one of a few group living facilities in the state that’s dealing with coronavirus outbreaks among their vulnerable residents.

Health officials for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., said Monday that the people who died at the Riverbend Post Acute Rehabilitation Center were among 37 who were sickened there. Only four were staff members; the rest were patients.

Meanwhile, three staff members and a resident at the Parsons State Hospital and Training Center for people with intellectual disabilities have tested positive, the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services said in a news release. The sickened resident has been isolated.

At the Life Care Center of Burlington — the site of the state’s largest outbreak — 41 residents and one staff member have tested positive, Coffey County health officials said. One resident died.

Life Care Centers of America also owns a Seattle area nursing home where 40 died and another in Kansas City, Kan., where one resident died.

The cases at group living facilities are among 900 that state officials reported Tuesday in 57 counties, up from 845 Monday. Twenty-seven people have died.

Also Tuesday, the Kansas Department of Corrections said an outbreak at the Lansing Correctional Facility had grown to eight inmates and seven staff members.

Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said several of the state’s other 11 coronavirus clusters have been tied to nursing homes. And three are tied to church gatherings in Wyandotte County.

Updated projections from the University of Washington show hospital use is expected to peak in Kansas on April 19, eight days earlier than previous projections, with deaths expected to peak at 10 per day on April 23.

The model predicts the states’ health care systems will not be as stressed as first expected. Kansas will ultimately need 94 intensive care unit beds; it has 278.

The head of Ascension Via Christi, which operates hospitals and other medical facilities in Wichita, Manhattan, Wamego, Pittsburg and Fort Scott, said Tuesday that the primary concern is staffing.

“The people that are operating the ventilators in a state like Kansas, where people are more precious than products, is a different situation than New York, where people are plentiful and product was scarce. We have a little bit of the reverse situation in Kansas,” said Don King, senior vice president of Ascension and ministry market executive for Kansas.

A respiratory therapist or other caregiver can be responsible for operating as many as eight respirators during an outbreak, and if you have one worker out sick it could impact as many as eight ventilators in a pressing situation, he said.

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