Test kit

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a test kit for the coronavirus.

As of April 17, Four Corners Health Department had tested 200 people for the coronavirus. The district serves Seward, York, Butler and Polk counties.

Of those 200 tests, 13 returned positive results, 182 were negative, and 5 were pending at the time of the report. Only one of the positives was in Seward county, with the rest in Polk and York counties.

“We have had no one who has been hospitalized or died in our district,” because of the virus, said Laura McDougall, director of Four Corners.

McDougall said the department was monitoring the symptoms of more than 100 people in quarantine in their homes throughout the four-county area.

The Army National Guard will set up a site within the Four Corners district next week to provide expanded testing services.

McDougall said the location of where they will set up is yet to be determined. The health department, Guard and area medical providers are working together to determine who needs to be tested.

Memorial Health Care Systems CEO Roger Reamer said April 16 that the hospital and clinic are now able to get more test kits for the coronavirus.

“Our goal is to be able to do more testing than we have in the past,” Reamer said.

Before now, tests were reserved for priority groups, like medical providers, first responders, those over age 65 and people who were at high-risk of contracting the virus.

If a patient didn't fall into a priority group, they would be sent home to isolate as “presumptive positive” for COVID-19, but without knowing for sure.

“It's frustrating for the providers and frustrating for the community to go into isolation and not be able to get tested, so we're hoping to be able to ramp that up,” Reamer said.

He said right now, MHCS doesn't have any COVID-19 patients in the hospital, but if one were admitted, they would be transferred to Bryan Health in Lincoln.

MHCS works with Bryan and CHI St. Elizabeth to communicate the number of available hospital beds in the area. The goal is to keep COVID-19 patients together in one area instead of spreading them throughout smaller communities.

“We are prepared to take inpatients, but at this time we're not needing to,” Reamer said. “When that changes they'll let us know, if their bed capacity gets tight.”

McDougall said patients should call ahead to the hospital if they experience shortness of breath or chest pain, as those could be symptoms that might warrant a hospital stay. Medical providers can triage those and other symptoms over the phone so they are prepared when the patient arrives.

McDougall said Four Corners received another small shipment of personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves, to distribute to area first responders. She said the department was waiting on approval from the state before it could begin distribution, adding that the items available wouldn't fulfill all the orders the department has received.

McDougall said Four Corners is now updating local COVID-19 case counts on its website twice a day. That information can be found at www.fourcorners.ne.gov.

The number of positive cases identified will be a cumulative number, she said, so once a person recovers from the virus, their positive test won't be removed from the total statistic.

The health department will list the number of people who have recovered as a separate statistic.

“I think we do need to include that to help people realize there will be a light at the end of the tunnel and people will be going back to work,” McDougall said. “I'd like to thank everybody for all you're doing. We know it's going to be important the next couple weeks. Stay home and take care of yourselves.”

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