Lawrence Hospital Taking Precautions Regarding Possible Coronavirus Case

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LMH Health is working with local and state health agencies related to a potential case of novel coronavirus. The outbreak of this new respiratory illness was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, and it continues to expand to a growing number of international locations, including the United States.

The hospital received a patient with symptoms of a respiratory illness. Given the patient’s recent travel to Wuhan, procedures are underway to treat the patient while minimizing exposure. These procedures include placing the patient in isolation in a room specially designed for infection prevention. Test results won’t be available for a number of days. LMH Health will advise the public if the CDC confirms or determines this patient is not infected with the coronavirus.

Due to the safety precautions in place, the hospital will remain open to patients and the community.

“As in all cases like this, LMH Health works closely with the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department to ensure we are appropriately prepared,” said Russ Johnson, LMH Health president and CEO. “Our initial role was one of surveillance—as the outbreak became apparent, we placed health alerts throughout the hospital and clinics regarding potential exposure in an effort to increase awareness of possible symptoms among travelers from China. Now, our efforts are focused on caring for this patient as we await test results.”

Symptoms of novel coronavirus include runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat and fever. Concerned individuals should seek medical help right away, calling ahead before seeing a doctor or going to an emergency room. Patients presenting to LMH Health should call 785-505-4086 before arriving; entry will be through the emergency entrance on Maine Street.

“We invest substantial time and energy ensuring we are prepared to handle public health concerns in concert with our partners at the local, state and federal level,” said Dr. Christopher Penn, LMH Health’s board certified physician in infectious disease and internal medicine. “The processes we have in place are intended to keep our providers and community safe, while providing the very best care to those who need us most.”


The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), in conjunction with our community health partners, is investigating a Person Under Investigation for potential exposure to the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in a Douglas County Kansas resident. Specimens will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for testing today and KDHE expects to receive results later this week.

The patient is not severely ill and is currently in isolation at a hospital as a precaution. The patient returned to the U.S. within the last two weeks after traveling from Wuhan City, China, where an outbreak of 2019-nCoV has been underway since December 2019. The patient became symptomatic in recent days and sought healthcare Monday.

While we have not confirmed this as a case of the 2019 novel coronavirus, we believe it is important to keep the public informed and educated on this new virus. Please know that there are a number of details we are unable to share to keep this individual’s privacy.

KDHE is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), LMH Health and the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department to identify and contact all of those who may have come into contact with the individual so that we can begin monitoring them for fever and respiratory symptoms, should this be a confirmed case.

The 2019 novel coronavirus spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms are thought to appear within two to 14 days after exposure and consist of fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing. Those considered at risk for contracting the virus are individuals with travel to Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, or individuals in close contact with a person infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus.

We are also advising residents that flu and other respiratory diseases are circulating in our state and are recommending everyone get a flu shot and follow basic prevention guidelines.
Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and staying home when sick.

The best ways to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses are to:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

If you have recently traveled to Wuhan, China and have developed fever with respiratory symptoms within 14 days of your travel or have had contact with someone who is suspected to have 2019 Novel Coronavirus, stay home and call your healthcare provider. You may also call the KDHE Epidemiology Hotline at 1-877-427-7317 if you believe you may have been affected.

Stay well,

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Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.