Bourbon County Commission Plan For Moving Forward

Bourbon County Press Release
For Immediate Release

On March 14, 2020, the Bourbon County Commission declared a state of disaster as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Shortly after on March 26, 2020, the Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department Officer issued an order to stay at home.

Since that time, there has been measurable progress at the county level, building a framework and preparing for when the Governor of Kansas tells Kansans we can reopen.

Bourbon County Commissioners realized the severity of the situation and acted swiftly in declaring an emergency existed.

This resulted in opening doors to federal resources. Bourbon County Emergency Management has worked diligently to keep our frontline healthcare workers safe with the necessary personal protective equipment, PPE. Available relief has been communicated through Facebook, email, radio, webinars, and hosting teleconference meetings with state level government officials such as with David Toland our Secretary of Commerce.

In three weeks, we have spoken to almost one hundred different businesses and organizations on a regular basis. At this time, we have reports of almost $4.6 million in relief to businesses awarded or applied for in our community.

On April 14, Bourbon County Economic Development, Jody Hoener, presented the commission a framework and roadmap with a goal to facilitate an effective path forward.

All three commissioners voiced their full support of the plan in moving forward.

“It’s an educational type of thing” stated Lynne Oharah, Bourbon County Commission Chair and COVID-19 Manager, “Educating the community on the plan. We need to move forward with this. Jody’s done a great job getting the framework in place and now we need to get all the players on board and get it out to the targeted groups.”

Our community has responded to the crisis informed, safely, and appropriately. Our framework, the roadmap to facilitate an effective path forward to reopening, has likewise been informed by experts in their field, researched heavily to ensure safety, and appropriate needs have been identified.

We do not have tima eline, but we know what the triggers are to move to the next phase. Planning for each phase now should begin so the infrastructure is in place when it is time to transition.

Phases are identified in the most well-renowned plan called National Coronavirus Response: A Road Map to Recovery by the American Enterprise Institute.

The phase we are in right now is called “Slow the Spread.” Experts are saying to move on we must see a slowed rate of infection and our healthcare infrastructure must be scaled up to safely manage the outbreak and care for the sick.

This includes using technology available to us, at its full potential, to keep our healthcare workforce, ambulance crews, and law enforcement officers safe.

The next phase is a State by State Reopening and will be determined by Governor Laura Kelly.

However, we anticipate there will continue to be some physical distancing measures and limitations mandated on gathering to prevent another accelerated outbreak.

Phase three is when physical distancing restrictions can be lifted. We can reach this point when we are using technology to screen our vulnerable populations and essential workers and collect data regionally, statewide, and perhaps even nationwide.

Of course, testing, once available, will be a key component. It is so important that it is worth repeating: Planning for each phase now should begin so the infrastructure is in place when it is time to transition.

The County team diligently on the needed infrastructure for when we are allowed to transition out of the current phase of slowing the spread to the next phase and beyond.

For the last three weeks, we have been very intentional and strategic with our efforts with a goal to facilitate an effective path forward.

We have identified our needs in a one page:

These include:

1.Rapid data collection of essential workers
2.Increase communication between public/private healthcare sectors
3.Improve patient communication
4.Promote a consistent message

We have articulated the required inputs to reach our goals in our Quad Chart.

These required inputs include:

1.Access to technology that can be used to tele-triage and screen our healthcare providers, the essential workforce, and the vulnerable populations. This allows for a more targeted approach to containing the COVID-19 Coronavirus.
2. Build many partnerships with experts and essential businesses such as: MRGlobal, Heart to heart International, the healthcare sector, KDHE, public health, emergency management, nursing homes and assisted livings, law enforcement agencies, and major employers.
3. Funding through public/private relationships.
4. Equipment to keep frontline workers safe with needed PPE, a database with software to support the self-reporting tele- screening, collection, entry and analysis of data taken during triage, testing, and recovery, and finally ensure our healthcare providers have increased testing capabilities.

There are two critical components that will be required for our community to move forward:

1. Screening and Data Collection
2. Testing and Test Kits. The Federal Government has yet to bring forth a plan. The most prominent plan widely used is the American Enterprise Institute’s Road Map to Reopening. This report calls for the need to screen and collect data on target populations.

Like many chambers of commerce, cities, counties, and state governments, Bourbon County has created a roadmap and the framework to facilitate an effective path forward.

“We have to have a starting point, and this is our starting point” Lynne Oharah. “This is a long-term process. Our team does an extraordinary amount of data mining and researching expert advice.”

Experts are telling us that to reopen society will require regular testing and a reliable, fast nationwide reporting network.

One of the ways identified to contain the virus is to screen patients. Because the virus is so contagious even those who may have the virus need to be quarantined.

This roadmap has been our guide the last three weeks and we have made progress in our effort to facilitate an effective path forward by obtaining one of the key components.

We have been working with Dr. Roger Harris, past Vice President of MRIGlobal, on an ongoing basis and through this relationship we have been able to gain access to a screening and data collection software, at no cost to the county, through Heart to Heart International and MRIGlobal.

Both organizations are well regarded in their field and have relationships with the Department of Defense. They have experience in responding to pandemics like Ebola with the same type of technology. Dr. Norman himself, our Secretary of KDHE, remarked positively on the two company’s credibility and reputation.

One of the features of the platform is it provides a self-assessment and guides people where to go should they show symptoms of Coronavirus.

An algorithm is used to manage key patients over time.

We have had measurable conversations with Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Bourbon County Emergency Management. Randy Cason, President of Ascension Via Christi and Becky Johnson, Public Health Department Nurse have been engaged. Community Health Centers of Southeast Kansas, our primary health provider, has been a critical component in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will also be an essential partner moving forward.

Our next steps will be to continue to reach out and engage our essential healthcare providers.

The new technology should be built and available to our community in the next week.


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