Smith County Memorial Hospital Responds to Coronavirus


SMITH CENTER, Kan. – Smith County Memorial Hospital is taking an active approach to the coronavirus outbreak. While there are no cases in Smith County, the hospital medical staff and administration are monitoring new information daily.

“We are taking the virus seriously and have plans ready to activate should Smith County or one of our neighboring counties be affected,” said Allen Van Driel, CEO at SMCH. “The best course of action for the public is to practice good hand hygiene, disinfect surfaces in your home and workplace and stay home if you feel sick.”

There is only one known case of coronavirus in Kansas. It is being monitored by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The department is updating all Kansas health facilities daily on any changes to the number of persons under investigation (PUIs) as well as any positive test results.

“The current threat of exposure in Smith County is very low,” Van Driel said. “KDHE has put a very sound statewide plan into place and is communicating well with all hospitals, clinics and healthcare facilities to keep everyone up-to-date with daily changes and numbers. Our communities should feel very safe.”

If a person suspects they have been exposed to coronavirus, they should contact their provider for further instruction. Most cases, even PUIs, can be managed without hospitalization, however, patients should expect to follow a protocol for testing and isolation if they suspect they have been exposed.

In order to meet cleanliness guidelines, the environmental services staff at SCMH has special processes and procedures for cleaning and disinfecting inpatient areas and exam rooms that have been exposed to viruses such as influenza and coronavirus.

“Our team does a fantastic job at keeping SCMH above standards for cleanliness and have been closely monitoring their work since the beginning of flu season,” Van Driel said.

This does not mean that visitors will be able to access every part of the facility. Visitors are asked to check in at the front desk and will be escorted to patient rooms by a member of the nursing staff. This precaution has been in place since early winter as a way to prevent the spread of influenza to or from patients and the public.

Coronavirus has similar symptoms to the cold and influenza. The virus is very similar to other air-borne illnesses and the defense against it is the same. Like influenza, coronavirus is a respiratory virus that can mean fever, coughing, runny or stuffy nose and fatigue.

“Common sense such as staying away from other people if you are ill, covering coughs or sneezes and washing your hands frequently will help stop the spread coronavirus, influenza and the common cold,” Van Driel said. “We can’t stress enough how important it is to stay home if you have any of these symptoms.”

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
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.

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