Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, Fort Scott, is offering a 3-day drive-through flu shot clinic in the parking lot at 401 Woodland Hills Blvd. today-Saturday. There is no out-of-pocket cost for participants.
Times for the clinic are: Thursday 9/24: 2:00 PM-7:00 PM, Friday 9/25: 7:00 AM-Noon, and Saturday 9/26, 9:00 PM-3:00 PM. Participants are asked to wear a facemask to protect CHC/SEK staff, and to help keep the vaccination line moving, please wear clothing where your shoulder is easily exposed.
Getting a flu vaccine this fall will be more important than ever, not only to reduce your risk from flu but also to conserve potentially scarce health care resources. This is standard-dose inactivated flu vaccine, CHC/SEK does not have high-dose available at this time.
The drive through flu clinic is recommended for everyone two years of age and older, with rare exceptions, because it is an effective way to decrease flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.
By getting a flu shot now, you will protect yourself and your family and friends.
At CHC/SEK, there is no out-of-pocket cost for receiving a flu shot. For those with health insurance, their insurance will be billed for the service; however, no money will be collected from participants regardless of their insurance status.
Getting an annual flu shot, and good health habits like washing your hands can help stop germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing may prevent those around you from getting sick. Make it a habit to clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces in your home, school or office. Flu vaccines and good hand hygiene are still the go-to recommendations for prevention; however, public health officials say it’s just as important to contain the virus, which means staying home when you’re sick.
Mental health is a factor in the COVID-19 Pandemic.
With increased stress due to the virus, the economy, social injustice issues, and the upcoming United States general election, mental health issues are a concern.
Eric Thomason, PMHNP, the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas Behavioral Health and Addiction Treatment Services Clinic Director, answered the following questions in an email interview with fortscott.biz.
Thomason said he is seeing a spike in people needing mental health services.
Thomason gives a recap of the pandemic, starting with how it began.
” It was this invisible thing, which we didn’t know much about, and it was killing people. This is an anxiety-provoking idea. We started to see the spread through urban areas of the United States. A lot of us collectively held our breath and thought, “How long until it is here?” Instead of carrying a belief that tomorrow can be better today, we removed the hope that tomorrow can provide.
Hope: A Weapon Against Depression
Hope is the single most important weapon in the battle of depression. One of my primary jobs is to restore hope. To restore a very simple idea, that if I get up, get dressed, and keep fighting, today can be better than yesterday.”
“The economic fallout has been tremendous. I treat a lot of blue-collar hard-working folks from Fort Scott and the surrounding areas. Our community members are some of the hardest hit in the nation due to involvement in livestock operations. I have had patients who lost jobs in the foodservice industry or as a part of other health care clinics. The removal of employment does two terrible things. It reduces our income and it reduces the perception of our value and purpose. Employment gives us a sense of accomplishment. If we did nothing else today, we finished our days’ work. COVID-19 took that away from a lot of the hardworking individuals I serve”
Social Support Systems Needed
“Lastly, social support systems are profoundly important to our wellbeing. Social isolation is often a symptom and predictive factor of depression. COVID-19 increased our isolation, thus increasing our risk of depression.”
Have there been more substance abuse issues during this time?
“Unfortunately, the rate of substance abuse, accidental overdoses, and death related to drug overdose throughout the nation has increased. Some national tracking services such as the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program estimate that drug-related overdose has increased over 40% across the country. This is in part to the removal or lack of coping strategies as well as treatment dropout rates due to social isolation and fear of COVID-19. One of the ways we worked to combat treatment dropout is to offer telephone, telemedicine, and in-person appointments despite COVID-19 spread throughout our communities. This is a testament to our incredible staff who chose to continue to serve and provide support to our communities when we were needed the most.”
What are some practices that people can do to help themselves with their mental health?
“Be honest with yourself or listen to your loved ones. If you aren’t doing well or someone you trust says you aren’t doing well, please get help.
Social distancing does not mean social isolation. Get on Skype, Zoom, Facetime, etc to have social interaction. The telephone is not enough.
Eat a balanced diet and get plenty of exercise. You can socially distance and exercise outside. CHC/SEK offers Wellness Services that includes a Chiropractor, Physical Therapist, Nutritionist, and Fitness Coordinator.
Avoid illicit drugs and alcohol.
Stay away from social media and political radicalism. We should be supporting one another during this difficult time, not tearing each other apart.
Be there for someone. Make a difference in someone’s life and you will feel better for it.”
Is a physician referral needed for mental health services?
“It is very easy to access any of our services. No physician referral is required. You can contact our Fort Scott Clinic at 620-223-8040 and ask about any program or service offered through CHC/SEK. Our goal is to answer your questions as efficiently as possible.”
Does insurance cover mental health services?
“Mental health services are covered under most insurance plans. For any specific questions, please contact our clinic and we can help determine your plan’s coverage. We work with our patients to determine if they would qualify grant-supported treatment and/or sliding scale fees. Always remember at CHC/SEK we treat all individuals regardless of their ability to pay for service.”
“You are worth believing that tomorrow can be better than today. You are worth being a better father, mother, husband, wife, brother, sister, employee and/or boss. You are worth treatment. In a world where everything is outside of your control, you can control whether you pick up the phone and ask for help. CHC/SEK is committed to being that help.”
Residents who use the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas for health care in Fort Scott, will see a reconfiguration of the spaces in the future.
CHC/SEK is located at 405 Woodland Hills, in the former Mercy Hospital building.
“We will be adding retail pharmacy space where the gift shop was (near the east entrance of the facility),” CHC/SEK President and CEO Krista Postai, said. “X-ray will be to the right as you walk in the clinic. We’ll also be adding new x-ray equipment into the main clinic…(There will also be) a break room and small meeting room created for staff. We will be creating a ‘women’s center’ within the clinic and moving the mammography equipment into the clinic to save women the long walk down the former Diagnostic Imaging Hallway. ”
The move is designed to be more convenient for patients, she said.
“We’re still involved in several other construction projects right now, but are working on final designs and talking with plumbers, electricians, etc. about the renovation,” Postai said.
“This is the new layout for our clinic only,” she said. “I have not seen a floor plan for the entire medical mall.”
The timeline for the reno will be made in the next few weeks, Postai said.
Also currently at the former Mercy building is the Ascension Via Christi Emergency Department, located on the south side.
This fall, Fort Scott Community College leased 30 rooms at the west end of the building for student housing, as part of their plan during the COVID-19 Pandemic. They have made rooms for students at the main campus at 2108 S. Horton, should students need to be quarantined.
On the north side of the building is I Am Rehab LLC a physical therapy clinic.
As more is learned about COVID-19 and its transmission, CHC/SEK clinics are changing visitor policies to provide the safest care to their patients while protecting their caregivers.
In alignment with the CDC’s guidelines to wear cloth masks in public settings where social distancing measures are challenging to maintain, CHC/SEK requests that all individuals, including patients, caregivers, vendors, and visitors wear a mask while in the clinics.
Those without will be offered a disposable facemask to wear while on the premises.
Masks enhance cough etiquette, prevent people from touching their faces, and are a visual reminder to practice social distancing.
Additionally, CHC/SEK asks patients to limit the number of persons accompanying them to one companion, friend, or family member who is involved in the patient’s care.
Clinic physicians feel it is important to limit the number of non-essential and “well” persons inside the facilities to prevent coronavirus’s potential spread by asymptomatic carriers.
Patients and visitors are also being screened for symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, sore throat, runny nose, and cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, or diarrhea) and temperature checked before entering the clinic.
CHC/SEK understands in some cases patients may not be able to limit those accompanying them to one person. Alternative visits using virtual technology are available for some types of patient visits, eliminating the need for the patient to travel to a clinic setting.
A virtual visit is a two-way, live, one-on-one video-based appointment between a patient and her/his healthcare provider.
Patients can connect with CHC/SEK using their Android phone or tablet, iPhone or iPad, or desktop computer for a visit.
Patients are encouraged to call their local clinic and inquire if a virtual appointment is appropriate for their situation.
CHC/SEK will continue evaluating its procedures. Protecting the safety of its caregivers and patients during the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic remains a top priority.
The worldwide COVID 19 Pandemic has affected society in the last three months for all segments, especially health care.
“COVID certainly dominated our activities and thinking, for two solid months,and we’re just now getting back to thinking ahead,” CHS/SEK President and CEO Krista Postai said.
“We did commit to remaining in the (former Mercy) hospital once the county assumes responsibility,” she said. “We are planning some minor remodeling including enlarging the pharmacy and moving all of our diagnostics (including mammography) into the clinic space freeing up the former diagnostic space for Ascension/Via Christi.”
“We are starting to see more people in the clinic now as the state is ‘opening up’,” Postai said. “At one point about one-third of our visits were through televideo or on the telephone but we definitely find that folks in Ft. Scott prefer face-to-face visits. We’re not quite back to normal activity level but getting there.”
“In addition to testing for COVID, we are now offering the antibody testing with a doctor’s order,” Postai said. “This is used to see if you had the virus and have since developed antibodies that could help protect you for getting it again. Although the science is still out on that, as some people seem to be susceptible to having it a second time. So far everyone we have tested thus far have been negative.”
“We have added staff including mental health,” she said.
CHC/SEK welcomed Tien Nguyen, a board-certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner to it’s Behavioral Health Services team, according to a press release.
Psychiatric NPs assess and diagnose patients, provide psychotherapy and prescribe medication.
In addition, six nurse practitioners were added to the team.
“CHC/SEK welcomed its first class of nurse practitioner residents, thanks to a partnership between the Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing at Pittsburg State University and the health center. The new residency program is the first such program in Southeast Kansas,” according to the CHC/SEK Facebook page.
“With guidance from their professional preceptors, six nurse practitioners — Lorraine Lorentz, Kelly McGuire, Kelly Mishmash, Brice Saunders, Maranda Scott, and Mayra Watson — will care for patients in Coffeyville, Fort Scott, Pittsburg, and Miami, Oklahoma clinics.”
Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas is pleased to welcome Tien Nguyen, a board-certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner to our Behavioral Health Services team.
Psychiatric NPs assess and diagnose patients, provide psychotherapy and prescribe medication.
They assist patients with mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, or dementia; other patients may struggle with grief, anger, adjustment issues, or other conditions.
Tien is serving patients in Iola, Fort Scott, and Pleasanton clinics. For our patient’s convenience, he is offering a combination of in-person, telehealth, or e-visits.
He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Tien has previous nursing experience, including inpatient psychiatry, and works with substance use disorders.
If you or a loved one feel they may benefit from psychiatric consultation, appointments can be made by calling 620-231-9873, or by calling your home clinic.
Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK) is a non-profit Federally Qualified Health Center dedicated to providing affordable, high quality medical, dental, behavioral health, and pharmacy services to everyone, regardless of income or insurance status. For more information, visit www.chcsek.org
Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas now offers COVID-19 antibody testing through QUEST Laboratories, according to Robert Poole, Communication and Marketing Director, in a press release.
Antibody testing is useful for research and specific virus investigations or epidemiologic studies. CHC/SEK shares testing results with its state and federal partners, according to the press release.
Put simply, the body makes antibodies to fend off germs and other harmful substances. And this process is part of the body’s immune response, according to dictionary.com.
The antibody test requires a physician’s order and looks for antibodies in persons who may have had, and have recovered from COVID-19, according to the press release.
Individuals wanting this antibody testing should discuss their concerns and what their results might mean with their doctor.
Laboratory orders can be accepted from physicians outside of the organization for this test, for example, a college student might have a primary care physician in another city.
COVID-19 antibody tests require a blood draw.
Testing is available at either the CHC/SEK Walk in-In Care, 1624 S. National, or the medical clinic at 401 Woodland Hills Blvd.
A positive result does not guarantee immunity from the virus. Whether you test positive or negative, you should still take preventative measures to protect yourself and others from the virus.
The cost of the COVID-19 antibody testing is being covered by the federal government, however, patients may incur an office visit fee depending on their insurance and income status.
Other points from the press release:
The science of COVID-19 testing is evolving, and test accuracy is not perfect. However, testing for antibodies can help identify people who have likely been exposed to the COVID-19 and have mounted an immune response to the virus.
The timing of the test is important. It typically takes 1 to 3 weeks after someone becomes infected with COVID-19 for their body to make antibodies; some people may take longer to develop antibodies.
It is unknown if people with antibodies have immunity and are protected from becoming sick with COVID-19 again. It is also not known how long those antibodies will last.
Antibody tests are not used to diagnose someone as being currently sick with COVID-19. To see if you have a current infection, you need a viral test that checks respiratory samples, such as a swab from inside your nose.
Whether you test positive or negative for COVID-19, you should still take preventative measures to protect yourself and others from the virus.
Homemade masks are being advised now for the general public
Robert Poole, Communication and Marketing Director for CHC sent this information directly from National Public Radios’s web page:
The CDC is now recommending people consider wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, because there is increasing evidence that the virus can be spread by presymptomatic and asymptomatic carriers.
To view the way to make homemade face masks from household items, click below:
These new policies come with the vital plea that people don’t use the medical-grade masks that are in short supply in hospitals right now.
On Community Health Center’s Facebook page recently, a patient who was a woodworker donated his n95 respirators to CHC for medical personnel.
Poole also responded to the following questions:
What other occupations would have the medical-grade masks?
Poole said he took the following information directly from National Public Radio’s story on masks from their web page.
Construction businesses and contractors
– Woodworking shops
– Manufacturing plants and factories
– Auto shops/body shops
– Painters: The masks do not protect against paint fumes, but are used as dust masks during sanding.
– Nail salons: The masks do not protect against chemical vapors, but protect against acrylic powder or dust from filing artificial nails.
– Hardware stores and tool retailers: Harbor Freight is donating its entire supply of personal protective equipment.
– Mold remediation companies
– Cleaning companies: However, many cleaning companies are facing intense demand for sanitation services because of the coronavirus crisis and may need their masks to protect their own vulnerable workers.
Where can people take donations if they have them?
“Any CHC/SEK location will gladly accept donations of N95 masks.”
What about the homemade masks people are making for medical personnel, are they effective?
” In order to reserve our supplies of medical masks, we have instituted the use of homemade masks in non-patient care areas,” Poole said.
Poole provided the following from the NPR wedsite:
Can public face-coverings prevent the spread of the virus?
The primary benefit of covering your nose and mouth is that you protect others. While there is still much to be learned about the novel coronavirus, it appears that many people who are infected are shedding the virus – through coughs, sneezes and other respiratory droplets – for 48 hours before they start feeling sick. And others who have the virus – up to 25%, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield — may never feel symptoms but may still play a role in transmitting it. That’s why wearing a mask even if you don’t feel sick can be a good idea.
If you cough or sneeze, the mask can catch those respiratory droplets so they don’t land on other people or surfaces. “So it’s not going to protect you, but it is going to protect your neighbor,” says Dr. Daniel Griffin at Columbia University, an expert on infectious diseases. “If your neighbor is wearing a mask and the same thing happens, they’re going to protect you. So masks worn properly have the potential to benefit people.”
If I’m wearing a mask and someone sneezes on me, would the mask offer some protection?
Yes. But only if you use the mask properly and don’t touch it with your hands afterward. Those droplets from a cough or sneeze would hit your mask instead of your mouth and nose — good news. But the next step is to take the mask off by the ear bands and either wash or discard it — without touching the front of it. If you touch the front of the mask, whatever that person coughed or sneezed on it is now on your hands.
One other thing: Ideally you would have eye protection, too, to keep that stranger’s sneeze from getting in. Glasses and sunglasses aren’t perfect but can help.
What about homemade masks?
Some research has shown that cotton T-shirt material and tea towels might help block respiratory droplets emitting from sick people — though it’s not clear how much protection they provide.
How often do I need to wash it?
Griffin says to think of a mask as like underwear: It needs to be washed after each use. “You don’t take this dirty mask off, put it in your purse and then stick it back on your face,” he says. “It’s something that once you put on, is potentially either touching your coughs, sneezes or the spray of your speech, or protecting you from the coughs, spray, speech of other people. And now it’s dirty. It needs to basically be either discarded or washed.”
CHC/SEK IS RESPONDING TO COVID-19 The COVID-19 situation is challenging each of us in different ways. For the staff at CHC/SEK, “business as usual” has always meant constantly trying to improve and find new and better ways to care for our patients.
This week we made several procedural changes in response to the virus. You will see tents in front of some of our clinics, and a screening nurse will greet you at all locations.
Nurses will ask you a few questions, and possibly take your temperature before you enter the clinic. The reason is to identify any potential COVID-19 patients before they enter, so we can properly treat them with minimum exposure to other patients and our clinical staff. In some cases, COVID-19 testing may take place in the patient’s vehicle rather than inside the clinic.
Public Health Officials are emphasizing that not everyone can, or needs, to be tested. Potential COVID-19 patients must meet specific guidelines that include specific symptoms and risk actors as directed by the CDC and state health departments. Our Nurse-staffed information line is now open 24-hours a day to answer health questions and screen patients concerned about exposure to the virus. The toll-free number is 866.888.8650.
We also understand that as the virus pandemic continues, we must continue to provide our “normal” health care services with as little interruption as possible.
We are now seeing some patients through eVisits. Patients can be “seen” by their health care provider from home via a smartphone or other device using an internet or data connection. E-visits are a convenient option for patients who are generally in good health, and more routine visits. Call us at your regular clinic number to ask about eVisits.
We’re also shifting appointment times in some locations, with “well” or routine visits in the mornings (or afternoons), and ill, or symptomatic patients on the opposite schedule with the idea of minimalizing exposure risks.
In Pittsburg, we will soon be diverting well-child visits with our pediatricians to our mobile clinic, called the KidCare Connection. We want to keep your healthy child’s examinations and vaccinations on schedule in the safest environment possible. The bus will be parked at 3011 N. Michigan, on the north side of our clinic.
Finally, Apothecare pharmacies at the Pleasanton, Fort Scott, and Pittsburg locations are providing free same-day delivery by vehicle or delivery by mail for prescriptions. CHC/SEK will continue to provide updates as they unfold.
Mercy donates building and 1 million dollars toward a sustainable approach to rural healthcare.
Bourbon County and City of Fort Scott officials are committed to improving the quality of life for each member of the community, increasing access to affordable quality healthcare, and remaining vigilant stewards of taxpayer dollars. For years Fort Scott, KS was renowned for its healthcare. Mercy Hospital was an integral part of our health system from primary care to community benefit to leadership involvement.
What remains today are the caring professionals, ambitious leaders, beautiful hospital campus, and the ingrained culture of ensuring community health needs are addressed appropriately.
Bourbon County Commission will be partnering with our community healthcare partners, The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas and Ascension Via Christi, and higher education partner, Fort Scott Community College, in transforming our approach to rural healthcare. Bourbon County will be taking ownership of the previous Mercy Hospital Building.
With Ascension Via Christi and CHC/SEK occupying a portion of the facility, the county is working with other health service agencies to supplement the community’s health care needs by housing them in the remainder of the move-in ready space.
For the common good of the community, the building will be repurposed into a collaborative effort that will be here for decades to come.
Ascension Via Christi President, Randy Cason, states, “This is exciting news for Fort Scott and the surrounding communities. Ascension Via Christi is eager to continue working with our community partners here to help to find solutions for the healthcare needs of this more rural area.”
Mercy Health Southwest Missouri/Kansas Communities has submitted a draft donation agreement to donate the building and one million dollars to Bourbon County for use of building maintenance and operations. This donation allows healthcare entities to lease space in the healthcare mall at market-rate. A standardized market-rate lease has led to discussions with healthcare organizations to expand services not otherwise offered.
Administration from Bourbon County and The City of Fort Scott will work together, develop a regulatory board and long-term lease agreements moving forward.
“This project is much more than just saving a building,” Jody Hoener, Economic Development Director, “Preserving this asset allows our community to no longer be victims of circumstance, but to assume responsibility for our community’s healthcare destiny. It creates a sustainable healthcare model under one roof.” There is little doubt in the concept’s success with the right amount of support and will be used as a model shaping rural healthcare policy across the nation.
Jody Hoener, Bourbon County Economic Development Director
The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK) Board of Directors took no action today toward establishing a “medical mall” within the former Fort Scott Mercy Hospital. Prior to finalizing plans for the construction of a new primary care clinic, CHC/SEK had spent the past month assessing the feasibility of remaining in the existing building.
“It was our goal,” said CHC/SEK CEO Krista Postai, “to see if we could recruit enough occupants to cover the cost of repurposing the former hospital built in 2002 at the cost of $30 million.”
“After analyzing costs over the last year and projecting expenses if the building’s space was fully utilized, we estimated that we would need about $800,000 to $1 million annually to cover utilities and maintenance plus the staff to keep the building maintained and fully operational,” said Postai, adding the bulk of that expense would have to be covered by CHC/SEK and Ascension/Via Christi who together would occupy a large percentage of the overall building.
CHC/SEK staff met with multiple people and organizations to discuss their interest including officials from Fort Scott Community College who identified opportunities for space for their nursing department, as well as additional dormitory space. We were especially appreciative of the Bourbon County Commission who had pledged “in-kind” support to take care of mowing, snow removal, etc., as well as the Mercy Health System who had tentatively committed funds for needed and future repairs.
“Altogether, we had tentative commitments from about a half dozen interested in being a part of the project which covered about 100,000 sq. ft. of the 125,000 sq. ft. of available space,” said Postai, who explained the entire building is 177,000 sq. ft. but about 50,000 sq. ft. is dedicated to mechanical space that supports the overall building operations.
“That was assuming Ascension/Via Christi remained in the existing ER and Diagnostic Imaging area, and we continued to occupy the clinic space plus the pharmacy,” she said.
“Unfortunately, we were notified Wednesday that after analyzing their options, Ascension/Via Christi had determined to remain in the existing building on a permanent basis was cost-prohibitive, and it was more fiscally prudent to build a new ER,” said Postai.
“We were told the existing ER space would need about $3 million in renovations and that, plus a lease payment adequate to cover the cost of their share of the facility, would make it far more expensive than a new facility,” said Postai. The CHC/SEK Board was prepared to make a go/no go decision at their Board meeting Thursday but after learning that Ascension/Via Christi was moving forward on their own construction, the board determined it was not possible to pursue this project without them.
“We all have to make hard decisions about what is best for our organizations and, unfortunately, we all have limited funds and have to maximize our capital investments,” said Postai adding that both organizations remain committed to providing services in Ft. Scott.
Both CHC/SEK and Ascension/Via Christi had already started designing new facilities on the existing campus and will proceed on, said Postai explaining CHC/SEK was planning a 25,000 sq. ft. to 30,000 sq. ft. facility facing Horton Street at an estimated cost of about $5 million.