Kansas

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Kansas nursing home faces severe federal penalties after deadly coronavirus outbreak

The first hint that the novel coronavirus was tearing through the nursing home in rural Kansas arrived in a Facebook post this month. The Andbe Home was in the grips of “a full COVID outbreak,” administrator Megan Mapes wrote, “despite the precautions we have been taking since March.”



a house that has a sign on the side of a road: The Andbe Home in Kansas is facing penalties from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after all 63 residents became infected with the coronavirus and at least 10 died. (Dana M. Paxton/Norton Telegram/AP)


The Andbe Home in Kansas is facing penalties from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after all 63 residents became infected with the coronavirus and at least 10 died. (Dana M. Paxton/Norton Telegram/AP)

But behind the walls of the facility, nursing home officials had failed to take the most basic measures to prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus after learning two residents were infected, according to a blistering report released Tuesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which resulted in severe penalties.

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By the time the viral firestorm had finished sweeping through the nursing home, all 63 residents were infected and at least 10 had died. Medicare moved Monday to terminate the Andbe Home from its program, cutting it off from federal dollars and imposing thousands of dollars in fines.

Government inspectors found that infected residents were separated from their healthy roommates by little more than a privacy sheet. Communal dining continued for two days. Multiple staff members failed to wear masks — even after the outbreak took hold.

In an email Tuesday to The Washington Post, the nursing home administrator disputed some of the findings outlined in the report and stood by the response to the outbreak, saying the facility had immediately quarantined infected residents and that staff wore full personal protective equipment, including goggles, masks and gloves.

“This is a terrible virus, but I am proud of how our staff has battled COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic, coming to work every day under extenuating circumstances, and caring for all of our residents,” Mapes wrote. “I am also proud of and thankful for the mutual support between Andbe Home and our community during trying times for everyone.”

The Medicare report, however, said the facility’s failures had “placed all residents in immediate jeopardy by the spread of Covid-19 to all residents.”

The virus’s rampage through the nursing home came amid a surge of infections in Kansas’s Norton County, which led the nation in per capita case increases between Oct. 12 and Oct. 19 and ranked second this week, according to a Post analysis. Before Oct. 13, the county near the Nebraska border had been spared virus-related deaths.

Now, there are clusters of cases at the nursing home, where 55 of 70 staff members tested positive for the virus, as well as at a correctional facility and a bank. City offices are closed to the public, municipal court is postponed and multiple businesses have temporarily shut their doors. The funeral home has posted a wave of obituaries for people who lived at the Andbe Home: a stained glass artist with pieces displayed around town, a onetime staffer turned resident, a skilled home cook known

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health

Kansas vaccination plan prioritizes health care workers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Health care workers and long-term care residents will be among those who will get the coronavirus vaccine first in Kansas, a draft plan shows.

Kansas’ 45-page plan was filed in the past week with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Kansas City Star reported. Other groups that will be prioritized for the initial rounds of vaccinations include people with underlying medical conditions, people 65 and older and essential workers.

Phil Griffin, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment bureau director for disease control and prevention, said the agency will use advisory committees to help determine who should receive the vaccine next. The plan indicates KDHE is taking input from groups representing individuals with disabilities, people of color, children and other demographics.

Griffin said there have been questions about whether states will receive vaccines based on the severity of the virus in their area, but no definitive answers. Kansas is being hard hit at the moment, though conditions could be significantly different months from now. Reported new cases and deaths are currently trending upward.

The state health department reported Monday that Kansas had 2,113 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases since Friday, an increase of 3% that brought the total number of infections reported in the state to 72,968. The department also reported 13 additional COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the Kansas death toll to 872.


On Monday, the health department in Norton County reported a coronavirus outbreak killed 10 residents in a nursing home in northwestern Kansas. It said all 62 residents and an unspecified number of employees at the Andbe Home in Norton had tested positive for the virus.

Some vaccines in development require a second dose, likely taken three weeks to a month after the first. Kansas plans to give every vaccine recipient a card with instructions when they receive their initial dose, its plan says.

The vaccine is free, but recipients or their insurance may be asked to pay a small administrative fee, likely less than $20. No one, however, will be denied a vaccine based on the ability to pay.

The logistics of storing and distributing the vaccine could prove challenging, especially if the vaccine requires ultracold storage. Griffin said a survey of about 100 Kansas hospitals showed that just 10% currently have the capacity for ultracold storage.

But Griffin said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and HHS have advised Kansas “to not be focused on purchasing or expanding” ultracold storage capacity. He said vaccines requiring those conditions would be shipped directly from manufacturers in special units that can hold up to 5,000 doses.

The boxes can maintain the required temperature for up to 10 days if strict guidelines about how often they’re opened are followed, Griffin said.

“It is going to be a big lift,” Griffin said of the vaccination effort. “There’s no hesitation in saying that.”

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COVID-19 Infects 62 Nursing Home Residents In Kansas, 10 Patients Die

KEY POINTS

  • 62 nursing home residents in Kansas have tested positive for COVID-19
  • 10 have died due to the virus
  • 51 are being quarantined in their rooms at the center, while one resident was brought to a hospital
  • Influx of new infections across U.S. may be what health experts believe to be “third wave” coronavirus cases

What health experts believe to be the third wave of COVID-19 cases has reached Kansas as the virus infected nearly an entire nursing home in its wake.

The Norton Country Health Department told NBC News the outbreak happened at the Andbe Home earlier this week. All 62 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, while 10 have died.

A total of 51 patients are being quarantined in their respective rooms at the center, while one resident was brought to a hospital. An “unspecified” number of staff members have also contracted the virus. Health officials said all staff members of the nursing home are being tested.

One week of new Covid-19 cases One week of new Covid-19 cases Photo: AFP / John SAEKI

“Steps are being taken to prevent any further outbreak including quarantining residents in their rooms and not allowing outside visitors into the facility,” said Health Department, adding that family members of the residents have been notified of their situation.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported that, as of early Monday, the state has 72,968 cases of COVID-19. A total of 872 deaths were reported state-wide, while 525,426 tests turned out negative.

A total of 2,113 new cases and 13 new deaths were also reported since Friday.

The grim increase of new COVID-19 cases that is sweeping across the United States and some countries in Europe is what experts claim to be the third – and possibly largest – outbreak of the virus. Business Insider wrote in an article over the weekend that the U.S. saw an average of more than 50,000 cases per day, with the country’s seven-day average of new cases have skyrocketed to about 25% since the beginning of the month.

“We’re clearly in the third wave if we’re looking at the true overall case counts in the country, realizing that our baseline has gotten higher and higher,” Columbia University emergency medicine physician Dr. Dara Kass told Yahoo. “So, as we head into this third wave over the country, we’re still now 40,000 to 50,000 cases a day.”

While reasons for the sudden rise of infections range from other states slowly loosening lockdown and stay-at-home guidelines and reopening of businesses and schools, Vanderbilt University epidemiologist Dr. William Schaffner also sees the country’s current plight will be made complicated this winter.

“During the summer, people went indoors for air conditioning, but they did spend more of their time outdoors. Nonetheless, it spread as people become lax in their attention to social distancing and mask-wearing. As far as I can tell, that’s growing,” Schaffner told CNBC.

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Every resident of Kansas nursing home infected with COVID-19

Every resident of a Kansas nursing home has tested positive for COVID-19, and 10 residents have died, according to area health officials. 

The Norton County Health Department confirmed on Monday that all 62 residents of the Andbe Home, a privately owned facility, tested positive for COVID-19. Of the 62 individuals, 10 have died, one is hospitalized and the others are being cared for at the facility. 

The department also confirmed that “some” staff members at the nursing home in Norton have tested positive for the virus, and others are being tested.

“Norton County Health Department has been working with the Andbe Home, Norton County Hospital and [the Kansas Department of Health and Environment] regarding this outbreak. Steps are being taken to prevent any further outbreak including quarantining residents in their rooms and now allowing outside visitors into the facility,” department officials said in a Monday statement, adding that family members of the residents have been notified of the outbreak. 

PRESS RELEASE

Posted by Norton County Health Department and Home Health on Monday, October 19, 2020

The department did not reveal how many residents are experiencing symptoms of the disease.

There have been over 250,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in nursing homes across the country, according to federal data, as well as over 143,000 suspected cases and over 59,000 fatalities.

Kansas has reported 74,616 cases of COVID-19 and 872 related deaths. Cases across the state have continued to spike since the summer, and at least 13 new coronavirus deaths and 1,894 cases were reported on Monday.

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All 62 residents at Kansas nursing home have COVID, 10 have died

Topeka, Kansas — A coronavirus outbreak has killed 10 residents in a Kansas nursing home, and the local health department said every one of the residents had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday, along with an unspecified number of staff. The affected home is in northwest Kansas’ Norton County, which has seen one of the largest proportional increases in confirmed coronavirus cases over two weeks in the country.
 
The Norton County health department confirmed Monday night that all 62 residents and some employees at the Andbe Home in Norton had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The agency also said one Andbe Home resident was hospitalized, while the remaining 51 were being treated at the home. 

PRESS RELEASE

Posted by Norton County Health Department and Home Health on Monday, October 19, 2020

It was not clear how many were experiencing symptoms of the disease, which is known to hit the elderly hardest.
 
The local health department said residents were being quarantined in their rooms and the home was not allowing outside visitors.
 
The outbreak at the nursing home came after the state Department of Health and Environment last week reported more than 100 cases at the state’s prison in Norton over the two weeks ending Wednesday.

andbe-home-norton-kansas-covid.jpg
A screenshot from Google’s Street View shows the Andbe Home nursing and care home in Norton County, Kansas. 

Google


Kansas is seeing an average of more than 700 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases a day, its largest numbers since early March.

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Kansas City hospitals overwhelmed, some forced to divert ambulances as COVID-19 cases jump

Hospitals in and around Kansas City, Missouri, are overwhelmed amid a troubling spike in COVID-19 cases that has forced some facilitates to refuse non-emergency care and others to turn away ambulances due to over-occupancy.

Average daily COVID-19 hospitalizations were up about 10% this week across the Kansas City region as the Midwest grapples with record-breaking daily infection rates and intensive care unit bed shortages, according to the Mid-America Regional Council’s dashboard.

Earlier this week, the Kansas City metro area saw its highest number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations on record with the seven-day average rising to about 133. Separately, hospitals in the area reported a 28% increase in the average number of patients on ventilators, week-over-week, while daily ICU occupancy rose about 11% from last week, according to the dashboard.

All in all, total weekly hospitalizations jumped to 867, compared to 835 last week, pushing several area hospitals to refuse ambulances due to lack of beds.

Marc Larsen, operations director of Saint Luke’s COVID Response Team, the second-largest care provider in the region, said Kansas City area hospitals are “bursting at the seams.”

Hospitals being ‘pushed to the brink’

Saint Luke’s daily patient average rose to about 85 for the month of October, compared to about 63 per day in September, Larsen said. The system reported a daily patient average of only about 15 COVID-19 patients a day in May and June.

“The current trajectory and the rapid increase in infections is a big concern for me,” Larsen told ABC News in an interview Friday. “And with our numbers where they are coming into influenza season, I worry that the facilities will continue to be pushed to the brink on our ability to care for each and every single one of these patients like we need to.”

He added, “As a result, our emergency departments and having to leverage alternative care units in our facilities, meaning that we wind up seeing emergency department patients in our pre-anesthesia care units, recovery rooms and sometimes in waiting rooms.”

PHOTO: Fans take in a flyover before the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Las Vegas Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 11, 2020.

Fans take in a flyover before the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Las Vegas Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 11, 2020.

Larsen, who is also an emergency care physician at the downtown Kansas City hospital, said at least eight metro hospitals and emergency departments had to temporarily stop accepting ambulances due to the high volume of patients on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We had eight facilities at one given time that were on ‘diversion,’ or what we call high-volume status,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t still take the time-critical diagnoses — we still take our stroke patients, our trauma patients and our heart attack patients — but it does limit our ability to provide care to the remainder of ambulances.”

“When we get to that volume and when we get to that

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