COVID-19 Update (Aug 25, 2021)

Dear Community Partners,

Changing our Emergency Department to diversion status – which means ambulances carrying patients are diverted to another hospital – is a difficult decision to make. However, it is one that has been made more often the past year.

During diversions, our front door to the ED remains open and we continue to triage and treat patients; only ambulances are diverted.

There are two primary reasons the ED may go on diversion:

  • There is a large influx of patients in a short amount of time or back-to-back arrival of multiple patients with critical injuries/illness putting a strain on the ED staff’s ability to safely care for additional patients.
  • There is a large number of patients requiring hospital admission waiting in the ED for inpatient beds to open; in addition to other ED patients needing care while the waiting room continues to fill.


It’s the latter scenario that has been the primary driver for the latest diversions.

Dr. Curt McGeeney, Medical Director of the ED, says the ED doesn’t like going on diversion, but it may be necessary to ensure safe and timely care for the patients already in the department. Going on diversion allows the ED team to prioritize the evaluation and treatment of higher acuity patients in the waiting room and thereby minimize the likelihood of adverse events.

Diverting ambulances, however, means patients are going elsewhere for care. “At Stormont Vail we consider ourselves the best regional option for patients for strokes, heart attacks, and other critical illnesses and under optimal circumstances we don’t want those patients going somewhere else,” he said.

Morgan Gerhardt, RN, Director of the Emergency Department, says the ED has 34 beds and sees 150 to 200 patients a day. At times, half of the ED beds may be filled with people waiting for an open inpatient room. There are fewer hospital discharges over the weekend and Mondays often bring a higher volume of patients who became ill or injured over the weekend and need care.

Since the pandemic, a higher percentage of ED patients are requiring hospitalization. Now 26 to 27 percent of ED patients are admitted compared to 18 to 19 percent pre-COVID.

In our area there is a community plan to partner when the two Topeka acute care hospitals are on diversion at the same time. The hospitals rotate and take every other patient arriving by ambulance until diversion is ended.

Being on ED diversion does not impact Stormont Vail’s ability to take trauma patients. “We are still going to take every trauma patient,” Morgan says. The ED remains in constant contact with the ambulance service to ensure patients meeting trauma criteria are accepted.

Dr. McGeeney reports there is increased communication between Stormont Vail clinic and ED providers to ensure patients in need of evaluations or treatment are referred to locations that provide timeliest care.  However, Dr. McGeeney says if people have an emergency situation, they should come to the Emergency Department.

  • For non-emergent medical issues or guidance about the appropriate place to seek care, contact your primary care provider during office hours.
  • After office hours, call Health Connections at (785) 354-5225.
  • For those with COVID-19 symptoms, call the Call Before You Go Line at (785) 354-6000.

Here are today’s updates:

COVID-19 Scorecard

Here’s a look at today’s COVID-19 scorecard:

  • We have 53 inpatients who are COVID-19 positive. The percentage of hospital patients who are unvaccinated is 75%. Vaccinated is defined as fully vaccinated individuals for greater than 14 days since the last immunization.
  • From the previous day – COVID-19 inpatient discharges: 14. Deaths: 0.
  • We have 132 COVID-19 positive patients in the outpatient Enhanced Primary Care program.
  • The percentage of patients testing positive for COVID-19 at Stormont Vail facilities the past seven days is 19.8% percent. The percent of positive cases who are unvaccinated is 79%.

COVID-19 Vaccines

  • We have administered 87,724 vaccinations, which includes first and second doses of the vaccine.
  • All Kansans age 12 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are available through the Stormont Vail Retail Pharmacy, 2252 S.W. 10th
  • To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment:
  • Walk-ins are welcome from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

We together,
Dr. K

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