Thursday Media Briefing on COVID-19

Thursday Media Briefing on COVID-19

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The number of COVID-19 patients being treated at The University of Kansas Health System is 22 today up from 19 yesterday. Three patients remain in the ICU, same as yesterday. Only one of two remains on a ventilator. However, five recovering COVID-19 patients remain on ventilators with the same 30 other patients from yesterday who are still hospitalized but out of the acute infection phase.
Today, Dr. Jamie Wagner, DO, Division Chief Breast Surgery, Breast Surgery Oncologist and Dr. Ron Chen, Chair, Radiation Oncology joined to talk share concerns around cancer patients delaying screening for fear of catching COVID-19. Both are seeing patients with later stage cancers in their clinics and screenings remain slightly lower compared to this time last year.
Dr. Chen said recent national studies published in JAMA and CancerNetwork as well as other reputable sources compared cancer diagnosis from March and April of this year to the same time last year. The results showed significant drops in cancer diagnosis of roughly 25% and 75% respectively. Individual cancer types had higher drops including 90% in breast cancer diagnosis this April compared to last year. Dr. Chen explained that COVID-19 has not cured cancer, rather is has caused a delay in screenings and biopsies and therefore a drop in cancer diagnosis. The drop also worries Dr. Wagner who is seeing later stage cancers in her clinic. She encouraged all women and especially those at high risk for breast cancer to make their own health a priority. Doctors said delay in diagnosis frequently also means complications in providing care and treating cancer successfully.
About 14 minutes into the Update, Dr. Stites spoke to a viewer question regarding the health system Great Bend Family Medicine clinic making the KDHE cluster hot-spot list. Dr. Stites said there was a cluster at the clinic during a time when the mask wearing culture was not strong. A person in the clinic spread it to others. The health system immediately tested all employees, quarantined those who tested positive, deep cleaned and sanitized the clinic before reopening to care for patients. Dr. Stites said the clinic is now doing an outstanding job wearing their masks and the clinic is very safe. He said if people will follow the pillars of infection control, then everyone will be safer from the virus.
Dr. Hawkinson applauded the community for doing better overall in embracing mask wearing and helping to change the culture around masks. He believes it will be a key pillar of infection prevention and control going into the fall as people spend more time indoors. He encouraged folks to continue to monitor their surroundings and stay safely spaced from people, wear masks and wash hands frequently. He said he was encouraged by the rolling seven-day average in the KC metro area and challenged folks to do their part in keeping the positive tests and cases of COVID-19 down.
Friday, September 11 at 8:00 a.m. is the next morning media update. Doctors will answer questions not answered earlier in the week, plus Nurse Amanda Gartner, Director of Quality and Safety joins to talk about her concerns around COVID-19 patients going into the fall. She will talk about lessons learned so far during this pandemic.