Open Mics With Doctor Stites CMO Conference 9-20-23

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Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


     Key points from today’s guests:

Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer, The University of Kansas Health System

  • It’s an honor to have eight different chief medical officers and infectious disease specialists across Kansas join us for this panel.
  • According to the CDC COVID tracker, COVID hospitalizations are up almost five percent. It still looks like a small bump compared to the big peaks we’ve seen before.
  • We want to make sure we stay ahead of anything that might be on the horizon so a slow burn doesn’t become a rapid burn as people start to move indoors with cooler weather.
  • The level of cooperation and camaraderie among area hospitals has been really special as we try to keep all area residents safe.

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, director of infection prevention & control, The University of Kansas Health System

  • Active COVID patients in the Health System this week are at 19, which is up from 16 last week.
  • For vaccines, you can get vaccines – COVID, influenza, RSV -- at the same time. Some doctors may suggest spacing them out to avoid impact of normal side effects.
  • Historically, different vaccines have been administered at the same time.
  • When we were masking during COVID, we saw less cases of the common cold.
  • Get the updated COVID vaccine, but also have a plan if you have symptoms -- test early and if you can get on those oral antivirals, that’s going to significantly reduce your chance of going to the hospital.

Dr. Jennifer Watts, chief emergency management medical officer, Children’s Mercy

  • COVID patients are starting to resurface, but the more concerning sign is the increase in RSV in children.
  • When we see cases of RSV and flu rise, that is when we children start to get sick and need hospitalization.
  • Your pediatrician is there to help you determine when your kids should receive their vaccines.
  • Every year, our beds fill up with kids with RSV, so to have a vaccine is very exciting.
  • The more people we have vaccinated to RSV, the less spread we have in the area, which in turn protects our children today.

Dr. Mark Steele, executive chief clinical officer, University Health

  • Over the summer, COVID cases were very low, but there has been an increase in cases lately.
  • There has also been an uptick in cases with employees being out over the past couple of weeks.
  • Overall, staffing is not quite back to pre-COVID levels, but it is improved.

Dr. Chaksu Gupta, FCAP, CMO, Liberty Hospital

  • During the summer, we saw no COVID cases, but in September they are averaging between 8-10 patients with COVID among the hospitals and outpatient clinics.
  • The silver lining is that the cases have been less severe and ICU admissions rare so far.
  • They have had small clusters in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the area, but the clusters have been small and limited in scope.
  • Vaccines are safe and effective.

Dr. Jennifer Schrimsher, public health officer, Douglas County; infectious disease physician, Lawrence Memorial Hospital

  • COVID still exists and it is still causing illness, along with influenza.
  • Get your COVID booster. It important to have a “regular” respiratory illness season after the surge the past few years.
  • The reason we are hearing so much about RSV is that we now have a vaccine for it.
  • Many viruses make up the common cold and the common cold will still be around.

Dr. Cliff Jones, vice president, subspecialty medicine, Stormont Vail Health

  • During the first part of September, up to 20 staff and providers were out with COVID, but those numbers have been cut in half.
  • Plans for the fall will include focusing on rooms where patients are being evaluated for respiratory illness.
  • They have not seen influenza or RSV yet to this point.
  • Symptoms of the new COVID variants are very similar to previous strains.

Dr. Elizabeth Long, CMO, Olathe Health

  • The summer was really quiet with COVID, but last week has seen the highest number of COVID patients in weeks with six.
  • When COVID happened, staffing became an issue. We’re slowly building back turnover to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Masking is still optional, but we are seeing more visitors masking voluntarily.

Friday, September 22 at 8 a.m. CT is the next Morning Medical Update. He used to play for the Chiefs. Now he's helping fight cancer...on a bike. You’ll meet this player and a mom riding Coast to Coast to help her son fight cancer.

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