Kansas City hospitals brace for winter as COVID-19 case numbers rise

The colder months are usually a busy time for hospitals because of increased sickness and this year is expected to be worse due to the COVID-19 pandemic


The University of Kansas Health System is the biggest hospital in the Kansas City area and it is currently caring for the most COVID-19 patients in the city as of Dec. 16. The hospital is located at 39th St. and State Line Road. photo by Rachel Robinson

by Rachel Robinson, Editor-in-Chief

ICU Nurse Jennifer Boxx starts her day at 5 a.m. She then drives 25 minutes to Truman Medical Center and begins a 12 hour shift treating patients for COVID-19. Boxx has been working almost exclusively with COVID-19 patients since March, and she enjoys it because she finds the virus interesting. 

“Just watching the progress of it, even since we started this back in March, the way our treatments have evolved, and how we’ve gotten better and better at properly caring for people, and, you know, we figured out what to do and what not to do, it’s been kind of fascinating for me,” Boxx said.

When working with some of the most serious and life threatening cases of COVID-19, Boxx sometimes worries about the things she sees in the hospital happening to her or her loved ones, but she doesn’t let it interfere with her job. 

“It was scary, but you know, you just get in there and you do your job, and you don’t dwell on it,” Boxx said. “So I say I probably thought about it more on my days off than I did, while I was at work because we were all just taking those precautions and doing what we’re trained to do.”

Boxx is now more worried about her hospital being overwhelmed by an increase in COVID-19 cases this winter. The colder months are often a busy time for her and other healthcare workers because of increased sickness, but this year is expected to be much worse. 

“I’m very much worried about the winter,” Boxx said. “We have hired a lot more staff. So hopefully, staffing isn’t an issue. But you know, hospitals only have so many beds, and I hope it doesn’t become a situation when people are out in hallways or something. But hopefully, that shouldn’t happen. We’ve made lots of preparations. And so we’re just hoping for the best.”

In order to prevent the kind of hospital overflow Boxx is worried about, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Lee Norman suggested cautious conduct when celebrating winter holidays.

“Holidays are coming and we saw an uptick [in COVID-19 cases] after the Thanksgiving holiday,” Norman said in a media briefing through the University of Kansas Health System Dec. 15. “I hope that in December holidays, people show some restraint, wear masks, socially distance and the like.”

According to Dr. Dana Hawkinson of the University of Kansas Medical Center, COVID-19 case numbers are trending slightly down as of Dec. 15 with 165 total patients being treated at the University of Kansas Health System. However, they are still high in comparison to the numbers this summer with 27 patients being treated Aug. 21 according to the Medical News Network. 

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly also weighed in on this media briefing, giving advice to Kansans and Kansas City residents for keeping themselves and others safe this winter. 

“Keep your mask on and keep your distance,” Kelly said. “Please don’t mass gather for the holidays as hard as that will be, but stick with it because help is on the way. We can do this, we can beat this virus if we stick together so just hang in there for a few more months and we’ll be on the other side of all of this.”