The University of Kansas Medical School, with one of its campuses in Kansas City, Kansas, will graduate 52 medical students early to help in Kansas with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The early graduation will come just at the time that COVID-19 is rising and may peak in Kansas, according to doctors at a University of Kansas Health System news teleconference Friday morning.
The announcement came as Wyandotte County reported 119 positive COVID-19 cases at 8:15 a.m. Friday, an increase from 108 positive cases here Thursday evening. Kansas had 552 positive cases on Thursday morning.
Many of the new doctors will be available to assist in areas where there may be a shortage of physicians, according to Dr. Mike Kennedy, associate dean for rural medicine at KU Med, who spoke at the news conference. The newly graduated medical students will work alongside practicing physicians in the program, called Kansas Pandemic Volunteer Health Care Workforce.
The new doctors are expected to serve in April and May in Kansas, before starting their residencies.
Dr. Jeff Colyer, former governor of Kansas, came up with the idea for the early graduation. Colyer is a clinical associate profession in plastic surgery at the KU Medical School, and frequently has participated in medical missions to war zones and epidemics. He currently serves as chair of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services.
“We are clearly going to need surge capacity,” Dr. Colyer said at the news conference. Sometimes medical students take a break between graduation and starting their residency, but this year, 52 students have volunteered for assisting throughout Kansas.
“They’re incredibly service-minded,” Dr. Colyer said.
The students will be available to assist practicing physicians and in hospitals in Kansas, doing whatever tasks they are assigned, such as seeing patients or doing tests.
Kennedy said the senior medical students wanted to help.
He also said they will not miss out on any of their education, and will complete all the requirements first. Those who have now completed all graduation requirements will be available for the program first, and those who have yet to complete some requirements will be available at the end of April, he said.
The degrees will be conferred early, and they will receive a special permit through the Board of Healing Arts to work temporarily under a supervising physician, he said.
Some Kansas counties have only one or two physicians, according to the doctors at the news conference.
While the discussion at the news conference centered on the new graduates helping rural communities in Kansas, they also would be available to help cities in Kansas with a surge in COVID-19 cases, according to Dr. Kennedy.
He said the new graduates will be matched to places of need. Groups including hospitals, the Kansas Medical Society and Kansas Academy of Family Physicians are being notified about the program and may offer the students a position. So far, the eastern portions of the state have the most requests, he said. There also are some areas in western Kansas that are beginning to feel pressure from COVID-19, he said.
Dr. Colyer said that nationally, the picture is shifting with some spread heading to rural areas and across the state. He said the new doctors might be used for seeing less acute patients, drawing blood, running an EKG or other tasks.
“They’re energetic and ready to go,” he said.
Dr. Kennedy thanked the Patterson Family Foundation, which donated $1 million for this program. The foundation originally was founded by the late Neal Patterson, Cerner Corp. co-founder, and Jeanne Lillig-Patterson in 2007. The foundation focuses on health care, education and rural communities.
The program is administered by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and is being coordinated through the Kansas National Guard, with Dr. John Alley, a surgeon at KU Health System, called to duty as director of the operational portion of the program, Dr. Kennedy said.
Dr. Stites thanked the Patterson foundation, and noted that there were many who also are helping in the crisis, including the medical students who are volunteering. In addition, he mentioned all health care workers, as well as Riegers, which donated hand sanitizer, and Design Innovation, which made face shields for the KU health system.
Dr. Steve Stites reported 33 positive patients on Friday morning at KU Health System, down slightly from Thursday. Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at the KU Health System, said it is still too early to say if they are truly bending the curve.
Dr. Stites said 7 percent of all tests were positive here formerly, and now it is up to 10 percent, showing community transmission. If there is a surge, it could come at the end of April or May, he said.
The way to beat COVID-19, Dr. Stites said, is to stay home, stay 6 feet away from others, don’t touch your face, stay home when sick and cough in the crook of the elbow.
The Kansas COVID-19 website is at
The UG’s COVID-19 response website is at
COVID-19 information from the CDC is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.
Wyandotte County is close to, but not in, a winter weather advisory today. In Wyandotte County, it was 32 degrees at 9 a.m. Friday, with a 60 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms. (National Weather Service graphic) There will be a maximum wind gust of 25 mph today in Wyandotte County. Temperatures may reach a low of 29 degrees tonight into Saturday morning. (National Weather Service graphic)
With a temperature of 32 degrees at 8 a.m. Friday, winter weather has returned to Wyandotte County.
In a big change from Thursday’s high of 70 here, Wyandotte County will see a high near 37 on Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
Light freezing rain is possible in some portion of the region today, according to the weather service. Rain is likely with thunderstorms possible, the weather service said.
A light mist was falling in Wyandotte County at 9 a.m. Rain is expected to end later this afternoon and evening.
Frost and freezing will be a concern on Saturday morning, as the Friday night low is expected to be 29 in Wyandotte County, according to the weather service.
Today, there is a 60 percent chance of rain with thunderstorms also possible after 1 p.m., the weather service said. The high will be near 37 with a north northwest wind of 11 to 14 mph, gusting as high as 25 mph. Between a tenth and quarter-inch of rain is possible.
Tonight, there is a 30 percent chance of rain before 10 p.m., with a low of 29, according to the weather service. A north wind of 7 to 9 mph will gust as high as 18 mph. Less than a tenth of an inch of rain is possible.
Saturday, it will be mostly sunny, with a high near 53 and a north northeast wind around 9 mph, the weather service said.
Saturday night, it will be partly cloudy with a low of 37 and a northeast wind of 5 to 7 mph becoming calm in the evening, according to the weather service.
Sunday, it will be partly sunny with a high near 63, and a calm wind becoming south southeast around 6 mph in the afternoon, the weather service said.
Sunday night, it will be mostly cloudy, with a low of 54, according to the weather service.
Monday, it will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 74, the weather service said.
Monday night, it will be mostly cloudy, with a low of 61, according to the weather service.
Tuesday, it will be mostly sunny, with a high near 80, the weather service said.
Tuesday night, it will be mostly clear, with a low of 54, according to the weather service.
Wednesday, it will be sunny, with a high near 77, the weather service said.
Wednesday night, it will be partly cloudy, with a low of 48, according to the weather service.
Thursday, it will be partly sunny, with a high near 65, the weather service said.
For more information, visit www.weather.gov.
More COVID-19 testing will open soon in Wyandotte County, according to Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer.
Dr. Greiner talked about the additional testing in an internet presentation with U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-3rd Dist., at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 1. Wyandotte County currently has more than 100 positive COVID-19 cases.
The Unified Government Health Department’s website at www.wycokck.org/COVID-19 has information and a self-reporting tool.
There is already testing for COVID-19 going on at the Sharon Lee Family Health Care at 340 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Kansas, (the former Southwest Boulevard Family Health Care), Dr. Greiner said. The requirements for testing are not as strict as they were formerly, he said. People may call 913-396-7070 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or visit http://www.swbfhc.org/ for more information.
Dr. Greiner said during the program with Rep. Davids that there are plans for an additional drive-through site on Friday in Wyandotte County.
Also, he said that St. Luke’s Health System is doing some testing for COVID-19 at some of its sites. St. Luke’s has announced its testing has been expanded to all first responders within the region who meet testing criteria. Those being tested have to have one or more of the symptoms, and need a referral. For more information, visit https://www.saintlukeskc.org/about/news/saint-lukes-news-saint-lukes-expands-covid-19-drive-through-testing-all-first-responders.
Dr. Greiner said the Johnson County Health Department also is looking at additional places for COVID-19 testing soon. This effort was approved recently through the Johnson County Commission, and the county is looking at sites.
Dr. Greiner encouraged Wyandotte County residents to visit the UG’s COVID-19 website at www.wycokck.org/COVID-19 or https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information. If they have symptoms, Wyandotte County residents can fill out a self-tracking form and a medical professional from the Health Department will get back to them with advice on what they should do. Those who are sick also may call their primary care doctor or their health clinic.
Rep. Davids encouraged residents to visit her COVID-19 website page at davids.house.gov/coronavirus, which has information and links about COVID-19, information about economic relief, unemployment benefits, stimulus funding programs including programs for small businesses, and other topics.
During the program, Rep. Davids also fielded questions about the small business relief that is in the financial stimulus package.
On Thursday she released a statement calling on the Small Business Administration and Treasury Department to make sure small businesses receive relief quickly and efficiently. About $20 million was allocated to SBA for small business disaster loans.
“Small businesses across the country, especially in the Kansas Third District, are suffering from the necessary public health measures put in place to combat the coronavirus outbreak. The CARES Act provides desperately needed resources for affected small businesses, which must be implemented immediately and without government red tape. Failing to do so will have enormous consequences,” Rep. Davids stated.
Several other topics were included in the Wednesday night presentation, including information about benefits, and health topics such as whether to wear a mask. To view the video of the Wednesday program, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6N-kYmYItY0.