On July 28, the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes began a new exhibit entitled”Fort Scott’s Frontline Workers”, highlighting groups of local COVID-19 workers.
Hours at the center, located on Main Street at Wall Street in downtown Fort Scott are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The exhibition is pictorial with text that honors first responders from four local agencies, health care workers from five local agencies, and educators in five local public and private schools.
This new exhibit has been made possible with funds received from a Fort Scott Area Community Foundation grant, according to an LMC press release.
“The Lowell Milken Center’s Fort Scott’s Frontline Heroes project highlights frontline professions within our community who have been directly dealing with pandemic issues in order to provide safe and direct action for our citizens,” according to the press release.
The following are recognized: firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical services workers, health care workers from Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, Ascension Via Christi Emergency Department, Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department, and long-term care facilities, assisted/independent living facilities, and local teachers/administrators at schools.
“The LMC believes these groups of workers are truly Fort Scott’s unsung heroes, as they have given so much of themselves to our community’s citizens during the pandemic and continue to do so,” according to the press release. “We encourage all Fort Scott area citizens to support these heroes by viewing the new exhibits at the Lowell Milken Center, sharing words of gratitude and support in the LMC guest book and through the LMC’s social media pages on Facebook – www.facebook.com/LowellMilkenCenter, Twitter – https://twitter.com/LowellMilkenCtr, and Instagram – www.instagram.com/LowellMilkenCtr.”
About the Lowell Milken Center: The Lowell Milken Center is a non-profit 501 © (3) that works with students and educators within a range of diverse academic disciplines, to develop projects focused on unsung heroes. Once their projects are finished, the student’s unsung heroes are shared in the Hall of Unsung Heroes or on the website, encouraging people all over the world to discover their individual influence and obligation to take actions that improve the lives of others. The Hall of Unsung Heroes is proudly located in Southeast Kansas and showcases some of the top projects developed in collaboration with the Center.
“At this time, I would recommend that if Bourbon County residents vaccinated or unvaccinated cannot socially distance themselves from others in public settings, that they wear a mask,” said Rebecca Johnson, Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department Administrator said. “When I left work yesterday evening our active COVID-19 case count was up to 97.”
“This surge compares closest with the surge we had around Thanksgiving time last year,” she said.
“There have been breakthrough cases where fully vaccinated people have contracted COVID-19,” she said. “We have had several cases of the Delta variant, but according to KDHE’s last report, have not had any from the tests they’ve received, in the last three weeks.”
“The Delta variant is a highly contagious strain of the COVID-19 virus that has been detected in the states that surround us as well as many counties that surround Bourbon,” Johnson said.
“I also recommend getting vaccinated if you are able. Bourbon County has four COVID-19 providers: Bourbon County Health Department, Walmart, CHC-SEK, and Walgreens. Practice social distancing, use good hygiene, and stay home when sick!” she said.
Mondays are walk-in days, call for an appointment (620)223-4464.
Since July 1, 2021, the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas has tested 530 Bourbon County residents for COVID-19, Robert Poole, Communication and Marketing Director at CHC/SEK said.
“Of those, 167 tested positive for COVID-19,” he said. “The average age of a COVID-19 positive patient in Bourbon County, for the current month, is currently 34 years old.”
“These are CHC/SEK internal tracking numbers, and do not include the efforts and statistics of the Bourbon County Health Department, Via Christi ER, or other testers in Bourbon County,” Poole said.
According to information provided by CHC/SEK, if one tests positive for COVID-19, they should talk to their healthcare provider about monoclonal antibody treatment, which has been granted emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for patients with mild or moderate COVID-19, who are at high risk of developing severe symptoms. This treatment may reduce COVID-19 hospitalizations if given from 10 days from the onset of symptoms.
It is given by infusion at an infusion site with a provider’s order.
This treatment is for those who test positive for the disease, are 12 years and older, and within 10 days of onset of symptoms.
It is also for those over 65 years old, are obese/overweight based on CDC charts, pregnant, have chronic kidney disease, diabetes, immunosuppressive disease, chronic lung disease, Sickle Cell disease, neurodevelopmental disorders or have medical-related technology dependence: tracheostomy, gastrostomy, positive pressure ventilation, not related to COVID-19.
To get tested or get a vaccine contact CHC at 620-231-9873.
Girard Medical Center of Uniontown Clinic also has rapid testing of COVID-19 available and can schedule a vaccine as well. The clinic phone number is 620-756-4111.
Percent of Kansas’s fully vaccinated recipients with valid county of residence: 93.4%
States with lower percentages for valid county of residence should be interpreted with caution.
With an increased demand for COVID-19 testing, CHC/SEK would like to remind patients to call ahead for an appointment to their local clinic before arriving for testing.
In most cases, patients should remain in their car unless instructed otherwise. Most tests will be conducted at a designated parking space at the clinic.
CHC/SEK is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases across southeast Kansas and its Miami, OK Clinic. With the rise in positive cases, hospitalizations are on the increase, and Crawford County has seen COVID deaths in the past 2 weeks.
This increase in viral activity is attributed to the delta variant, making its way across the country and almost exclusively affecting unvaccinated individuals.
While many of the current COVID cases display the classic symptoms of COVID-19, other patients are experiencing “sinus complaints” and body aches or mild upper respiratory complaints.
CHC/SEK recommends anyone with symptoms get tested.
To protect other patients and staff members, patients experiencing COVID-related symptoms are asked wear a mask upon entering the clinic.
COVID-19 symptoms can include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.
About 80-90% of new cases, 95% of hospitalizations, and 98% of deaths are in unvaccinated (or not fully vaccinated) individuals, according to Dr. Linda Bean, Chief Medical Officer at CHC/SEK.
“The threat of COVID is still as real as it was last year, but the difference this year is that it is preventable, she says. “Vaccines are readily available, and there is still time to have our school-age students twelve years and older vaccinated by the start of school.”
All CHC/SEK clinics have COVID-19 vaccines available, and there is never a cost for the recipient. Vaccinations are available on a walk-in basis or by appointment.
Dr. Bean noted that it is still possible (though less likely) to get COVID even if you have been vaccinated and this does not mean that the vaccine has failed.
“The primary goal of the vaccine is to reduce transmission, serious illness, and death – to date, the vaccines are very effective, even against the current variants,” she says.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions circulating regarding the COVID-19 vaccines, Bean says. “We encourage anyone who has questions to call us. We have very knowledgeable people who would be would be happy to address those concerns.”
CHC/SEK requests patients to wear masks in clinics
Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas clinics are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases and is reminding all patients to wear a mask during their clinic visits. Masks are also available for patients who need them.
COVID-19 testing is also available at all locations, and patients are asked to call ahead to their local clinic and request a test, and to remain in their cars for testing.
Unvaccinated individuals have comprised about 90% of the new cases, 95% of hospitalizations, and 98% of virus-related deaths in our region, according to CHC/SEK Chief Medical Officer Linda Bean D.O.
“Vaccination against COVID-19 continues to be the best way to protect yourself and others from serious or long-term effects of the virus,” Bean says. “CHC/SEK has now given over 40,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine which has shown to be safe and effective protection from the virus.”
COVID-19 vaccinations are available at all CHC/SEK clinics for anyone age 12 and older. People can walk-in or can request an appointment by calling their local CHC/SEK clinic or by going online at https://chcsek.org/getmyshot/
At this time the current vaccines appear to be effective against the variant Delta strains of COVID-19 which is more transmissible and can cause more significant illness in younger patients.
Local health professionals encourage people to celebrate safely
Crawford County Covid-19 cases are increasing, as well as throughout the region and they are already affecting local and regional hospitals, according to Dr. Tim Stebbins, Crawford County Health Officer and Director at Ascension Via Christi Emergency Department.
With the July 4 holiday approaching, Stebbins is concerned that traditional celebrations, including family and community gatherings, will increase the risk for transmission of Covid-19 and cause possible serious medical impact, especially on those who are not vaccinated against the disease.
Since the initial wave of the Coronavirus pandemic, Via-Christi Hospital in Pittsburg has gone from single digits of Covid-19 patients weekly back up into the 20s, and last week to 51 including ventilated patients with admissions on track for similar numbers this week.
Stebbins says nationally, 80-90% of new infections are in the unvaccinated/nonimmune group, with more than 90% of hospitalizations in the same group. Over the last few months, 98% or more of the deaths from Covid-19 are in the unvaccinated/nonimmune group.
Health officials have confirmed some of the new infections in Crawford County are the Delta variant of Covid-19.
As of mid-June 2021, the CDC estimates the Delta variant is accounting for 20% of new cases in the United States. The delta variant is challenging because it is highly transmissible and affects the younger age groups.
In milder cases, infected individuals may mistake the symptoms for a bad cold and not realize they need to isolate. Common symptoms reported have been headaches, sore throat, a runny nose, or fever.
Testing for COVID-19 is an essential part of containing the disease, and the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas has rapid testing available seven days a week. The Crawford County Health Department can also provide rapid testing.
For most vaccinated people, the current COVID-19 vaccines effectively prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death from all current strains of the virus. Previous illness with Covid-19 also seems to provide some immunity from the disease.
“Everyone should consider their own risk when celebrating, including their own current health and vaccination or immune status,” Stebbins says. “If you have any immune compromising disease or illness, such as cancer, you should carefully weigh the risks and consider mitigation.”
Strategies to help prevent Covid-19 infection include handwashing, social distancing, and wearing a mask. It is especially important that all individuals, regardless of immune status, stay home if they think they might be ill.
The single greatest protection against COVID-19 for individuals age 12 and up is vaccination. Crawford County has a robust vaccination capability and vaccinations can be found through nearly all local pharmacies, SEK Urgent Care, PSU Health, Community Health Centers of Southeast Kansas, and the Crawford County Health Department. Three different vaccines are available in the County and vaccination is available to anyone 12 or older.
It is possible for all of us to celebrate this holiday safely and to minimize the risk of harm to our family and friends, Stebbins says. “Everyone should consider their own risk when celebrating including their current health and vaccination or immune status. We must all be smart in what we do, consider the risks, mitigate if appropriate, and seriously consider vaccination to prevent further spread and impact of this disease.”
Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, Fort Scott, is still in the planning stage of the new site they purchased, the old Price Chopper store at 2322 S. Main.
“Planning on the renovation of Price Chopper is going smoothly,” Krista Postai, CEO and president, said. “It will have walk-in care along with regular medical clinic space and diagnostic, including x-ray, CT-scanner and bone density diagnostic equipment, offices for behavioral health/addiction treatment staff and other support staff and a drive-through pharmacy.”
“No start date for renovation, as of yet,” Postai said.
“To help offset the expense of renovation, CHC/SEK was the recipient of a $1.1 million federal grant through the American Rescue Plan,” she said. “A large portion of the diagnostic equipment will also be covered by an $11.3 million grant that CHC/SEK received through the American Rescue Plan for Health Centers program.”
New Family Physician Is Added
“Dr. Sarah Bradshaw, a board-certified family physician with additional training in treating allergies will be joining the Ft. Scott Medical Staff in June,” Postai said. “Dr. Bradshaw is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Medicine and completed her residency in Family Medicine at the University of Missouri of Kansas City. She also has a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Kansas School of Public Health. She was formerly employed by Allen County Regional Hospital.”
“Her time will be initially split between Iola and Ft. Scott,” she said. ” Her schedule is now being finalized and more details will be available this week.”
The only FDA-authorized vaccine for 12- to17-year-olds is now available at all Community Health Center locations by appointment. The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is a two-dose vaccine that is given 21 days apart.
Now, entire households can be immunized against COVID-19 where previously only adults are were immunized. The vaccinations make it easier for students to return to regular schooling in person, and removes issues to school reopening’s by reducing the threat of transmission in classrooms, and allows adolescents to safely attend summer camps, sleepovers and get-togethers with friends.
Parents or guardians can request a vaccine appointment for their child on the CHC/SEK website chcsek.org. Click the COVID Vaccine Request button. After selecting the “first dose” button, there is an option to select the Pfizer vaccine. CHC/SEK representatives will contact the recipients to schedule a date for the vaccine.
For those without web access, the health center has a toll-free number, 866-888-8650 and a second number for Spanish-speakers 620-240-8940 to make vaccination appointments.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also has endorsed the Pfizer vaccine for the 12-and-up group — and agreed that it’s OK to give more than one vaccine at the same time, especially for children who are behind on their regular vaccinations. More than 3.78 million children have been infected with SARS-CoV-2cases and at least 303 have died, according to the AAP.
Vaccinating children helps shield others in the community from the virus, including people who are not protected by the vaccine, such as cancer patients and those with impaired immune responses.
Experts also believe the more persons who are vaccinated, the less likely the virus will mutate and continue to spread further.
As with all COVID-19 vaccines, there is no out-of-pocket costs to vaccine recipients.
The former Price Chopper building on south Main will be developed for a new site of the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas in Fort Scott.
CHC currently leases the former Mercy Hospital building at 401 Woodland Hills Blvd.
“The sale has been finalized including an outparcel that was once being held for another development that didn’t materialize,” Krista Postai, CEO of CHC said. “So the entire building and parking lot is ours to develop.”
CHC paid $3,625,000 for the former grocery store that sits on the main thoroughfare of Fort Scott.
“The outparcel was immediately off US 69, near the sign,” Postai said. “A very large chunk of the current parking lot.”
The future site is in a high-traffic area of Fort Scott, on U.S. Hwy. 69, with an address of 2322 S. Main Street.
The medical center will be making a large investment in the community.
“We estimate that when it’s all complete, we’ll have a $7 to $8 million investment including renovation and diagnostic equipment,” Postai said.
The project will be completed in less than two years, with the expiration of CHC’s current lease with Mercy ending in December 2022.
“We have less than two years to get it done so we’re jumping into the design phase,” Postai said.
CHC will be combining the clinic, walk-in care clinic and the pharmacy into the new development at 2322 S. Main.
“We did invite Via Christi Ascension to join us in this project but they indicated – very graciously – that they would need more time and were opting to remain in the existing Emergency Room in the Mercy Hospital Building (at 401 Woodland Hills Blvd.) which is still owned by the Mercy Health System.:
“As they requested, we will be donating back the land and helipad Mercy gave us behind the hospital for new construction now that we have the Price Chopper Building finalized,” she said.
The former Price Chopper tenant was there for two years.
Allergy Clinic Coming
Also new on the horizon is a regional allergy clinic CHC will be starting this summer, she said.
“We thought Ft. Scott would be a good location for access from throughout our north and south service area,” Postai said.
As with all COVID-19 vaccines, there is no out-of-pocket costs to vaccine recipients.