Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

On The Road Back

Kimball Health Services Returning To Regular Hours Monday

After six weeks of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Kimball Health Services administrators this week said the hospital is headed in a positive direction financially and operationally.

On Monday, April 27, the hospital will resume its regular hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., although the Pine Bluffs Clinic will still be limiting its hours.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has relaxed the Directive Health Measures for the state and effective May 4, elective surgeries can and will resume at Kimball Health Services.

All employees at the hospital have been cleared and or tested by the health department. There are no active COVID-19 patients or employees in the hospital.

As with many other rural hospitals, the COVID-19 situation has been devastating for the local hospital. Kimball Health Services has seen a 95% decrease in revenue in the last two months and naturally a significant drop in patients, officials said.

Rural hospitals throughout the country have been impacted financially and some could close permanently, but Ken Hunter, CEO of Kimball Health Services, said he was excited that the hospital received a grant from the Small Business Association to retain all full-time employees, so no one at the hospital has been furloughed.

The hospital payroll totals $600,000 every four weeks. Administrators said they were proud of the financial condition of the hospital but stressed that they do not have cash on hand to pay salaries for any length of time. The SBA grant was a huge stress reliever.

Medical director and chief of staff Dr. James Broomfield also seized the moment to congratulate Hunter on his diligence and determination to go after the funding. Hunter has been on the phone often during the effort.

In addition to the SBA grant, the hospital received a Telehealth grant so it could continue seeing patients. Through Telehealth, Broomfield has been treating COVID-19 patients in this area and as far away as Utah. Telehealth involves the distribution of health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies.

This method of doctoring will continue as long as there is a need for it. Telehealth also has been productive for medication refills and check ups for local patients.

Meanwhile, Broomfield praised Kimball County Manor, saying it was "proactive" and did what it needed to do.

"They were very good at following directives and keeping patients healthy." Broomfield said. "The community has been over and above in understanding and supportive of the hospital."

In other COVID-19 news, the Panhandle Public Health District early this week confirmed 38 positive COVID-19 cases in the Panhandle and said more than 783 tests have been performed in this area.

Of the 10 cases in Kimball, it has been reported that nine people have recovered and are no longer in isolation.

PPHD is still cautioning people to stay at home and follow the social distancing standards and travel requirements. PPHD continues to ask people to shop alone, help seniors by shopping for them and exercise daily.