(April 15, 2020) Preparations for a community-wide response to COVID-19 are continuing by the Buffalo County Healthcare Coalition.

Alternate Care Site

First, The University of Nebraska at Kearney has prepared two residence halls to serve as an alternative care site when needed.

Efforts to establish an alternate care site at UNK were already in the works by members of the Buffalo County Healthcare Coalition when the Governor announced the Department of Health and Human Services and the University of Nebraska system would be providing a statewide approach.

No details have been announced on when/how patients will arrive, but members of the coalition are ready to assist however and whenever needed.

In addition to providing the dorms themselves, UNK will also provide meal and janitorial services.

The National Guard, who arrived on-site at UNK on Tuesday, will be handling security, building access and oversight of operations. The Department of Health and Human Services will determine who receives care and admit patients to the alternative care sites.

Those who don’t meet the established criteria for receiving care at UNK but having housing needs are being asked to work with the Buffalo County Emergency Housing Task force and visit kearneyhousingagency.com/covid19.

Availability of PPE for Healthcare Workers

Coalition members are also continuing to collaborate on securing PPE (personal protective equipment) for healthcare workers.

CHI Good Samaritan has begun reprocessing N-95 respirators using Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) and is providing this service to all healthcare facilities in the Two Rivers Public Health Department seven-district area.

Members are also working to assist long-term care facilities with PPE needs to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable populations. Said Dr. Robert Messbarger during a previous coalition meeting, “One box (of surgical masks) used at a nursing home could be equivalent to 15 boxes saved at a hospital if it prevents them from needing to be put on a ventilator.”

The group will continue to meet regularly and plans to share regular updates and resources through the Buffalo County Community Partners: bcchp.org/covid19 and facebook.com/bcchp.

Members of the coalition include: CHI Health Good Samaritan, Children’s Physicians-Kearney, Family Practice Associates, First Care Medical, Heartland Surgery Center, Kearney Regional Medical Center, New West Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery, Platte Valley Medical Clinic, Buffalo County Community Partners, Buffalo County Emergency Management, Tri-Cities Medical Response System (TRIMRS), Two Rivers Public Health Department, University of Nebraska-Kearney, Horner Lieske McBride & Kuhl Funeral & Cremation Services, and O’Brien Straatmann Redinger Funeral Home.

Media Contacts:

Todd Gottula
University of Nebraska-Kearney

Renae Jacobson
CHI Health Good Samaritan

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