Coronavirus Media Briefing Monday 4-19-21

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


            A nice drop in the number of COVID-19 patients at The University of Kansas Health System today. Eight people with the active virus are being treated, down from 14 Friday. Of those patients, six are in the ICU, up from three on Friday. Three of those patients are on ventilators, same as Friday. nine other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID-19 but are out of the acute infection phase, down from 13 Friday. That’s a total of 17 patients, down from 27 Friday. HaysMed reports a total of four COVID-19 patients today, with three active and one in the recovery phase, same as Friday  

             On today’s Morning Media Update, we marked the start of national volunteer week and talked with two guests who help us with our COVID-19 vaccine clinics. Vanessa Goldsberry is our volunteer services director and she was joined by Elaine Struve, (rhymes with groove). Elaine began volunteering to “pay if forward” and now helps out with our clinics.                                                             

            Vanessa Goldsberry began her job at the health system just two months before the pandemic hit. COVID-19 forced a pause on the whole volunteer program. She explained what volunteers did before that time, which was helping patients in any way that didn’t require a license or special certification. Now that vaccination rates are up, volunteers are slowly being allowed back to the health system and being used exclusively in the vaccination clinics. To volunteer, fill out the application at this online site. She says volunteers come from all over the Metro area on both sides of the state line and range in age from high school freshmen to some approaching 100. She says it’s not necessary to be fully vaccinated to volunteer, but it will be offered. She says when volunteers feel good about being here, it creates a great patient experience.

            Elaine Struve, (rhymes with groove) received a bone marrow transplant in 2016. She has done well, and says because of the care, concern, and compassion she received during her treatment, she wanted to pay it forward. In 2018 she became a volunteer in the BMT Mentorship Program, which allows her to give emotional support to those going through the same journey. She noted that many of the same things BMT patients have always had to do, like frequent hand washing, social distancing, sanitizing, and wearing a mask, are things the general population is going through now in the pandemic. She says volunteering makes her feel happy and rewarded and she’s grateful and humbled by the opportunity. In her words, “Kindness is such a small gift to give, but it could mean so much more to those that are receiving.”

            Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at The University of Kansas Health System, notes that the numbers at the health system are going in the right direction after going in the wrong direction last week. He pointed out the fact that the infection rate in Israel is way down thanks to a culture which promotes vaccination. He also says it looks like we’re getting closer to solving the clotting problem with the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines. He believes vaccination is the way out of the pandemic and will let us get back to large gatherings such as at Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums.

            Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System, noted that Dr. Fauci believes the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be allowed to resume on Friday. He believes we’re starting to see a shift by the vaccine hesitant toward accepting the vaccine. He says faith, hope and science, especially a belief in the science, is helping with that trend and it “warms my heart” to see America making a comeback and rapidly rising to being one of the top vaccinators in the world. He adds, “That’s a remarkable statement from where we’ve come.”


            Tuesday, April 20 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Media Update. The pandemic has been challenging for cancer patients as they navigate treatment and the best time to get vaccinated. This is especially true for patients with blood cancers. Dr. Joseph McGuirk, Division Director, Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapeutics and Medical Director Blood and Marrow Transplant and Dr. Ala Ola Abdallah, Director of Plasma Cell Disorders joins to share how the pandemic is impacting their patients. We'll also introduce you to the first two patients to receive the newly FDA approved CAR- T for multiple myeloma. 

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