LMH Health receives $7.5 million in CARES funding
Jessica Brewer, LMH Health
Last month, Douglas County Commissioners recommended a Reimbursement and Direct Aid Plan for $24.9 million in funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The plan, which was approved by the State of Kansas on September 9th, includes a $7.5 million request from LMH Health to assist hospital patients, staff and the community. While some funds will be used to reimburse LMH Health for expenses which occurred during the pandemic response, most will be used to develop new programs and capacity for community health.
Russ Johnson, LMH Health president and CEO, said this funding will allow the hospital to complete projects that improve facilities for COVID-19 inpatients and support a number of areas where the hospital can significantly expand resources and services during this pandemic and for other medical needs in the future.
“We are grateful to be a part of the collaborative response our community has taken to address COVID-19, and LMH Health will continue to be a committed partner in this work going forward,” he said. “This support from our county demonstrates confidence in the role LMH Health plays in community health, and we pledge to steward these funds in consultation with our community partners to deliver thoughtful solutions and ensure progress toward recovery.”
Johnson said with LMH Health’s statement of purpose being a partner for lifelong health, the hospital takes this notion of partnership very seriously. With the commitment in funding, LMH Health will work with the Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health and other organizations to embark on the projects listed below.
A major area of focus for LMH Health’s funding request is testing in three specific areas: mass community testing; back-to-school baseline testing; and human services and first responder surveillance testing. We will work in partnership with Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health and our clinicians to identify highest and best use for testing in these three areas. The funding will allow us to deliver testing for asymptomatic persons who live and work in Douglas County, testing for staff and residents of the Lawrence shelter, medical providers and more, all while using LMH Health as a community testing center.
As part of this testing focus, the aid allowed reimbursement for expenses and investments related to a temporary site made available in the month of August for the collection of specimens and/or the performance of COVID testing for approximately 5,000 educators in advance of their return to Douglas County universities. Additionally, it will support testing for another 4,000 educators and staff in Douglas County school districts later this fall.
Additionally, LMH Health will expand community-wide COVID-19 specimen collection and testing capacity and generate a multi-use space for future vaccinations for COVID-19 and influenza. LMH Health will open a specimen collection site called “Drive-through Access to Safe Health (DASH)" that will increase capacity by a minimum of 600 patients per day.
Funding will also allow for improved environmental and physical controls of existing drive-through Respiratory Evaluation Clinic, further enabling a broad range of safe services and staff support. Improvements to the existing site, which has a capacity to see 200 patients per day, will address safety, security and health issues, creating long-term capacity for testing, vaccination and other treatments.
Inpatient COVID-19 Treatment
The second focus for funding is on inpatient COVID-19 care. With the funds received through the Douglas County Direct Aid Plan, LMH Health will add needed clinical equipment to the newly constructed inpatient COVID-19 unit including medicine cabinets to control security access to specialized COVID-19 therapeutic drugs, new hospital beds for the COVID-19 isolation unit, a newborn isolette for COVID-19 positive moms, an additional ventilator/anesthesia cart, additional emergency room stretchers and ICU monitors.
With this funding, LMH Health will provide support to patients through a new Pandemic Uninsured Fund, which will improve access to care for Douglas County residents who are uninsured or underinsured due to unemployment or underemployment attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will allow residents who are postponing care to seek the help and treatment they need.
“Healthcare equity is a vital part of our work as a charitable organization dedicated to serving everyone. This support will help us extend our work even further to all those who need care,” Johnson said.
The hospital will also focus on public safety measures in the health care environment and LMH Health telehealth. This will help the hospital protect the community while continuing to provide health care services in all LMH Health facilities through mitigation processes such as mass temperature monitoring, creating physical barriers at places where social distancing is not possible, providing protective cleanable barriers on public furnishings, UV lighting for disinfection, entrance management/screening and communications for wayfinding and patient visitor/instruction. Continued telehealth efforts will allow us to better protect the community through online care, increased social distancing, and practices like virtual waiting rooms and contactless payment.
Lastly, LMH Health will focus on supporting healthcare workers through the LMH Health Employee Health Quarantine Fund and LMH Health telework. The aid funds will allow testing for healthcare workers; supportive funding for quarantined workers, and replacement staffing from external sources in the event of staffing shortages in Lawrence due to quarantine. Continued telework efforts will allow LMH Health to protect the community by limiting the number of non-clinical workers in treatment locations. This program includes the cost of providing a secure network for handling healthcare information.
“This commitment of more than $7.5 million for these programs and services is a reflection of the confidence that the community has in the work that our nurses, lab techs, phlebotomists, therapists and all of the teams that provide care to the community every day,” Johnson said. “I’m proud of our team for making LMH Health a community organization Douglas County and beyond that people can trust to be their partner for life long health.”