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Rock Regional Hospital has yet to treat a patient for COVID-19, but has administered a number of tests for the virus.

So far, despite the current medical threat of the coronavirus, Derby’s Rock Regional Hospital remains in the clear for the time being.

“We don’t have any patients in-house who are positive for COVID-19,” said Vice President of Business and Development Strategy Barry Beus.

Rock Regional has administered seven tests to date, Beus reported, with no positive results – though the hospital is waiting to hear back on results for a couple of tests. While hospital staff administer the tests through a swab, those tests are then submitted to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Pertaining to possible treatment for COVID-19, Beus noted the hospital is constantly assessing the situation in order to be prepared, like reviewing its standing in regards to personal protective equipment (PPE). Hospital staff want to make sure they have everything they need to treat as many patients as possible.

Beus did state, though, that when it comes to treatment, Rock Regional Hospital would not be considered a tertiary care center. If a patient suffering from serious COVID-19 symptoms were to come to the hospital, he said they would likely be transferred to a tertiary care center in Wichita. However, the Derby hospital still has to be prepared.

“It’s pretty quiet from a hospital standpoint thus far. That may change tomorrow. We just don’t know,” Beus said. “That’s the hard thing we’re doing is predicting what may come in our doors tomorrow, but we want to be ready for that.”

Measures the hospital has taken as an extra precaution to protect against possible spread of COVID-19 include modifying its visitor policy (allowing only one visitor per patient), screening for temperatures above 100.4 degrees among all visitors, employees and physi-cians and closing all but three entrances to the hospital. While Rock Regional remains a 24/7 facility, the front entrance is now locked at 5 p.m. for added safety.

Additionally, Beus said potential patients and visitors have done a good job practicing social distancing, with many avoiding the hospital at present unless an essential trip is required.

Hospitals are among the essential businesses lined out in Gov. Laura Kelly’s stay-at-home order, so they remain fully operational, though Beus pointed out that in preparation for large numbers of coronavirus patients many hospitals have cancelled or postponed elective surgeries. Rock Regional has not done that outright, but is treating those surgeries on a case by case basis.

“We are still doing some of those. It’s obviously up to the physician’s discretion to deter-mine if a patient may have symptoms or be at risk of COVID-19 exposure, so we would leave it up to the physicians,” Beus said. “We are currently still doing elective procedures, but it’s certainly dropped off. You have a lot of patients who just elect to delay those procedures.”

Numbers of patients and visitors have generally dropped off, though, Beus said. Even among those patients the hospital does see, visitors/family members have taken to waiting in their vehicles until the procedures are complete.

Beus commended community members for adhering to those safety guidelines. Hospital staff has pushed that as well, handling many meetings over conference calls, but they are still working to be ready in the face of the unknown.

“We know that it’s going to come into our community,” Beus said. “We hope that we can do what we can from a social distancing standpoint to ‘flatten the curve’ and make sure hospitals and health systems are equipped with the necessary equipment and personnel to treat those patients if they come into our facilities.”

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