The 1,860 Fort Scott school students will get five days off from school starting tomorrow, thanks to the pandemic.
USD 234 Superintendent Ted Hessong said because of the high student absenteeism and a high level of transmission of the virus, Fort Scott schools will be closed tomorrow Thursday, Jan. 13 and Friday, Jan. 14.
“These two days will count as snow days for tracking of hours on the academic calendar,” he said. “Remote Learning will not be utilized on these two days.”
The two days of school cancellation are followed by the weekend, then a pre-scheduled staff professional development day on January 17.
“This closure is needed to assist in slowing down the spread of the virus and to give students and staff who are not feeling well time to recover. We hope these five days away will help people,” he said.
“School activities will be canceled for January 13, 14 and 15,” he said.
“We will continue with the scheduled professional development day on Monday, January 17, and activities will resume on Monday,” Hessong said.
Masks will be required in all buildings on Tuesday when students return on the18th, he said.
“We will monitor numbers regarding the mask requirement next week,” Hessong said.
The Test to Stay and Learn virus testing program provided by the district and Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas will be available for students on Tuesday, he said.
Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas has been busy, among other things, with hiring, getting their new building secured and equipment purchased, and of course giving COVID-19 Vaccines and tests.
They will be announcing a new pediatrician coming to Fort Scott soon, according to Krista Postai, CEO, once she has secured her Kansas license.
“She is a very skilled and personable young woman who we interviewed three years ago, just out of residency, and now has decided this would be a much better option than practicing in Missouri where she is now,” Postai said.
New Building Site Is Secured
CHC secured the parking lot by blocking off entrances at their new building as 2322 S. Main.
“We secured the parking lot of the Price Chopper building to reduce the wear and tear on the parking lot and reduce our liability,” Postai said. “Work on the interior will begin in earnest in early 2022 for completion by December 2022, so we can get moved before our lease expires.”
“A new CT Scanner and X-ray equipment has been ordered for our new building and will be delivered once the space is ready,” she said. “We are now installing a CT Scanner at our Pittsburg clinic which will be ready to use in January.”
COVID-19 Self Test Kits Available To Employers, Organizations
“We have received thousands of Quidel brand home self-testing kits from the Health and Resource Administration Services Administration(HRSA) for COVID, that we will be distributing, free, through our clinics,” she said.
CHC sent 200 kits to Fort Scott Community College last week and will send a supply to local employers or organizations with a need to test to protect others, she said.
“Organizations needing kits, there are two tests to each kit, can request them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org she said. “There are no tracking or reporting requirements although anyone testing positive is urged to get a confirmatory test through our clinics. The tests in the kits take about 15 minutes for results.”
“COVID is still very much with us, we have patients in the hospital in Pittsburg and had a COVID-related death (last) weekend,” Robert Poole, CHC Communications and Marketing Director said. “I know we are all COVID-19 information-fatigued, however as we go into the holidays and begin travels and visit family it’s important to be cautious and be safely vaccinated.”
“CHC/SEK just hit 58,000 vaccines delivered so far last Monday morning,” he said. “Our vaccine teams have been working tirelessly to protect our communities.”
“We have plenty of vaccines available today,” he said. “You can receive a shot in our walk-in clinics and we encourage our patients to schedule their COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters through our website. (chcsek.org) Scheduling your shots through the website helps us to allocate vaccines to the clinics that need them and group vaccinations together to minimize vaccine waste.”
CHC has Pfizer vaccines for children ages 5 through 17 years old.
“Children need protection from COVID-19 for their health and the health of their friends, siblings, parents, and grandparents,” he said. “The contagious Delta variant, emerging Omicron variant, and more in-person indoor activities means that COVID is still spreading and there is a risk for getting sick.”
For boosters, anyone 18 years or older can choose either a Pfizer or Moderna booster six months after their last dose. The wait is two months for anyone who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to receive a booster.
Ross Turney, a Pittsburg State University graduate, is returning to Pittsburg from Yuma, Arizona, to begin the role of Vice President of Finance at Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas. Turney started his new position on Monday, Nov. 29.
Born and raised in Basehor, Kansas, Turney missed his family who still lives in the Midwest. In fact, it was his parents who engrained the mentality of consideration and compassion for others that inspired him to work for a Federally Qualified Health Center like CHC/SEK.
“What better way can one give back than to help alleviate some of the stresses of one’s healthcare,” Turney said. “And since I wasn’t smart enough to become a nurse or provider, I opted to help from the financial aspect. FQHC’s are the perfect representation of alleviating such an important need for underserved communities and I am thankful that I can help support this in some small way.”
Turney has a long history working in healthcare, and was formerly Chief Information Officer at Sunset Community Health Center, in Somerton, AZ, where he also served as the Director of Revenue Cycle and Health Data. He also previously worked as a manager of Revenue Cycle Business Systems at Alameda Health System in Oakland, California, and as a Senior Health Consultant for Deloitte Consulting in New York.
There’s still time to get vaccinated before holiday travel
With the holiday travel and gathering season upon us, coupled with the winter season of colds, flu and other respiratory infections, Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK) would like to remind the public that having the added protection of a COVID-19 booster is vitally important.
COVID-19 vaccine boosters are now available at most CHC/SEK locations and are recommended for all adults 18 years and older if it has been 6 months since their last Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or 2 months since the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine.
The recent emergence of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19 and its variants.
The CDC is urging the 47 million adults who are not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to vaccinate the children and teens in their families as well because strong immunity will likely prevent serious illness.
There is never any out-of-pocket expense for any COVID-19 vaccine recipient at CHC/SEK. Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself, reduce the spread of the virus and help prevent new variants from emerging.
To speed the process and to prevent vaccine waste, (open vials have a short shelf life) the clinic encourages those wishing vaccinations to schedule an appointment through the CHC/SEK website, www.chcsek.org. After submitting the request, a vaccine scheduler will call to confirm an appointment. Additionally, CHC/SEK will continue to offer vaccines at Walk-In Care visits and Primary Care visits.
Noble Health Corporation announced yesterday that in the near future they will be deciding whether it is feasible to reopen a hospital at the former Mercy Hospital facility, according to Rob Harrington, Director of Bourbon County Regional Economic Development Inc.
“There will be two more meetings with the (Bourbon County) Commission and then they will begin talking with the public about the outcome of the feasibility study,” Harrington said.
“Today was a good day for Bourbon County and we are excited to see the process continue,” he said.
“The next phases will be dedicated to renovation costs and I believe labor,” he said.
“The study has been completed, however, it contains information that at this time needs to remain confidential until after the property is transferred to Noble by the county,” Harrington said. “We are hopeful that this will happen in January and February when they begin doing their town hall meetings.”
Noble Health Corp. announced in June 2021 that it would explore the possibility of reopening the acute care hospital facility in Fort Scott, according to a previous press release from the corporation.
The corporation, a Kansas City company, engaged in a cooperative agreement with Bourbon County to conduct a feasibility study that could lead to the reopening of the former Mercy Hospital building, located at 401 Woodland Hills Blvd., according to the press release.
The building is located just off Hwy. 69 on Fort Scott’s south side.
Mercy Hospital Fort Scott closed in December of 2018.
Since that time Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas has leased a portion of the building, and Ascension Via Christi Hospital, Pittsburg, has leased the emergency department. Those leases end in December 2022. Fort Scott Community College has leased the western part of the building for student housing.
To view the prior features on Nobel Health in Fort Scott:
Vaccination promises to help kids more safely resume school and social activities
Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas is now offering Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 by appointment in its Baxter Springs, Coffeeville, Iola, Fort Scott, Pittsburg and Pleasanton locations. The initial number of Pfizer for children’s vaccinations is limited, however, CHC/SEK expects the vaccine supply to become more readily available and will have children’s Pfizer vaccine ages 5-11 at more clinics in the coming weeks.
To speed the process for parents and to prevent vaccine waste (open vials have a short shelf life), CHC/SEK is requesting that children’s COVID-19 vaccinations be administered by appointment when possible.
Parents wishing to have their children vaccinated can schedule an appointment through the CHC/SEK website, www.chcsek.org. After submitting the request, a vaccine scheduler will call to confirm an appointment. Those without web access can call their local clinic or 620-231-9873 to schedule.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for administration to children under emergency use authorization. On Tuesday, Nov. 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee for Immunization Practice (ACIP) voted unanimously to recommend the Pfizer vaccination, with Kansas officials adopting the authorization on Wednesday.
This latest vaccination authorization includes children 5-11 and those with underlying conditions and previous COVID infection. Vaccinating ages 5-11 allow children the protection to resume normal childhood activities without risking their own health and reduces the risk of bringing the virus home to a more vulnerable family member.
Pfizer’s child shots contain just a third of the vaccine dose that is already been used to vaccinate millions of people 12 and older. The 5- to 11-year-olds will receive two shots, three weeks apart, the same schedule as everyone else but with a smaller amount in each shot, using a smaller needle.
According to U.S. health authorities and leading doctors’ groups, COVID-19 is causing much preventable suffering among youngsters. About 1.9 million kids ages 5 to 11 have been sickened with COVID-19. Some 8,300 were hospitalized, about one-third needed intensive care, and at least 94 deaths have been verified.
There is never any out-of-pocket expense for any COVID-19 vaccine recipient at CHC/SEK. Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself, reduce the spread of the virus and help prevent new variants from emerging.
While the U.S. has seen a recent downturn in COVID-19 cases, experts worry about virus variants and another uptick in infections with holiday travel and as winter sends more activity indoors where it is easier for the coronavirus to spread.
CHC/SEK Diabetes Health Team gets perspective on diabetes by wearing a CGM
The diabetes health team at Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas had a unique opportunity to walk inpeople living with diabetes shoes by wearing a convenient and lifesaving continuous glucose monitor (CGM).
With a CGM, patients do not have to poke their fingers for readings and they have a constant reading at their fingertips every 5 minutes. The device is compatible with most smartphones and the CGM alerts the patient when their blood sugar is too low or too high. Additionally, there’s an option for their family to be notified.
“If your sugar starts to bottom out then it will be sent to your family member and they can call, or come over to check on the patient,” Diabetic Health Coach Tyffanie Hembree said. “It is very helpful and it seems to be a very successful piece of technology.”
Wearing the device gave the team insight into how to use it and gave them a humbling experience and understandingwhen visiting with someone living with diabetes.
“It was an eye-opening experience seeing how certain foods affect your blood sugar, and seeing it in real-time makes a difference,” said Diabetic Nurse Educator Travis Searles, RN WCC. “CGM’s take a lot of the guesswork out of treating diabetes. It tells the whole story instead of the average story.”
Diabetes Program Manager Taylor Panczer, MPH, CHES, agreed.
“I decided to wear one because I felt like I could be a better advocate for the patients if I understood their life experiences when it came to Diabetes Care,” she said. “It hit me for the first time that people living with diabetes are truly going through life-changing behaviors. They not only need to learn how their disease affects their body, but then need to learn certain clinical skills that can save their lives, but also kill them ifdone incorrectly.”
One team member, Kristyn Milburn, NP-C, BC-ADM, lives with diabetes and praised the team for taking the opportunity to learn more.
“I love when those living without diabetes are open to the opportunity of using continuous glucose monitoring (CGM),” Milburn said. “I feel that multiple things happen with this experience. Staff learn through immersion and know the devices inside and out to be able to assist patients in the most effective way possible. Also, one is able to experience just how valuable this tool is – they then become awesome advocates for their patients to have the best tools for the best outcomes.”
Across southeast Kansas, CHC/SEK diabetes health coaches and nurse educators are available to help patients with self-management of their diabetes.The team includesNurse Practitioner Kristyn Milburn, NP-C, BC-ADM; Diabetic Nurse Educator Travis Searles, RN WCC; Teresa Hall, RN, BSN; Diabetic Health CoachesAmber Findley, Leslie Langford, RT(R), Sara Conkling and Tyffanie Hembree; Dietician Sherise Beckham, Diabetes Program Manager Taylor Panczer, MPH, CHES, and Vice President of Support Services Christi Keating.
They work closely with the Diabetic Nurse Educator, Diabetes Clinical provider, Chronic Care Management, and the Wellness team. Additionally, diabetic health coaches coordinate other healthcare services for dental, vision, podiatry and behavioral health.
As a Diabetes Educator, Searles teaches DSMES (Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support) classes. In the classes, patients learn more about their disease and how to better control it.
CHC/SEK currently has approximately 5,100 patients diagnosed with diabetes with a total of 524 patients enrolled in the diabetes program. CHC/SEK wants to become a Diabetes Center of Excellence to offer the best, quality care the clinic has to offer.
“Overall, wearing a pump and CGM devices was a very eye-opening experience,” Panczer said. “It was almost nothing like I thought it was going to be. Prior to wearing it, I took my pancreas for granted. Not so much anymore. I was definitely living a privileged life that I didn’t even realize.”
PITTSBURG — The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has approved the KU-CHC/SEK Rural Family Medicine Residency, completing the final step to becoming a place to grow and retain the next generation of rural family physicians.
“We are excited to begin the residency program,” saidReta Baker, CHC/SEK vice president of clinical education. “Southeast Kansas has a need for more physicians and certainly welcome them to our community.”
The rural family medicine residency is a collaborative initiative between the University Of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) in Kansas City, Kansas, and the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK) in Pittsburg. Applications for the residency will be accepted in the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS), and should be available by Nov. 10.
By selecting this residency experience the learning and training environments will provide the best of two worlds; urban and rural. Year one residents will be based at the KU academic medical center in Kansas City, Kansas. The curriculum will provide experience in an academic institution providing a solid foundation in preparation for the transition to rural training in years two and three.
The primary residency site for rural training will be with the FQHC of CHC/SEK. All of the resources needed for this underserved rural community will be found under one roof along with the Residency Continuity Clinic. Residents will also train at Pittsburg’s Ascension Via Christi Hospital to learn care of the acute patient in a rural setting.
Unique benefits and features of the FQHC based residency experience include but are not limited to: learning to manage complex care patients and access specialty care and consultation from a rural environment; being the only residency in the community eliminates competition for procedures and experiences as well as focused support and attention from faculty, and access to a multidisciplinary team on-site to immediately address your patients’ needs may include but not be limited to such services as; dental, behavioral health, wellness, diagnostics, population health, community health worker and care management to name some.
“Having a Family Medicine residency in Pittsburg has been a dream for many years and we are thrilled to see it become a reality,” Associate Program Director Bethany Enoch, MD, said. “Training excellent family doctors has been my passion for a long time, and the ability to do it in southeast Kansas where these physicians are so needed will be another great step toward excellent health for all of us in southeast Kansas.”
Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas is moving forward with the renovation of the former Price Chopper building on South Main.
“We are still in the design phase, but still on schedule for a December 2022 occupancy,” CHC/SEK CEO Krista Postai said.
The lease with Bourbon County, the owners of the former Mercy Hospital building, ends in December of 2022.
“The COVID Pandemic is most certainly impacting the availability of almost everything so we have already ordered,” Postai said. “This includes many of the larger pieces of equipment, including a CT Scanner and the bone density equipment.”
CHC/SEK has started recruitment for additional staff including a pediatrician and a dentist, she said.
And additionally, CHC has assumed operations of another medical clinic.
“We will be assuming operations of the medical clinic in LaCygne – formerly operated by Olathe Health- and will ultimately be doubling the staff,” she said. LaCygne is in Linn County, north of Bourbon County.
“CHC/SEK opened its doors in 1997 on the second floor of a 90-year-old elementary school building in Pittsburg as a community outreach of Mt. Carmel Regional Medical Center, the hospital Mother Sheridan founded in 1903,” according to its’ website.
“Our purpose was to ensure that all children were “ready to learn” by providing physicals and immunizations, no matter their parents’ ability to pay. It was a mission of love in an area of critical need – a community that continues to have some of the highest rates of childhood poverty in Kansas.
“We quickly realized these children’s parents and grandparents needed care too. We expanded our services and facility to provide quality, affordable healthcare to patients of all ages. By 2003, we had become an independent organization with 11 employees that cared for 3,300 patients.
“Today, more than 600 employees care for more than 70,000 patients every year, providing medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, and support services across southeast Kansas – still regardless of the ability.”
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.
“Contacts were made to all the different agencies, we received input from several administrators and staff,” Cathy Werling, spokesperson for LMC said.
This new exhibit has been made possible with funds received from a Fort Scott Area Community Foundation grant, according to an LMC press release.
“Work began on plans for the project in October of 2020 after we knew we received the Fort Scott Area Community Foundation grant,” Werling said. “Contacting and interviewing all of the various frontline worker’s staff began in January of 2021.”
“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.”