Current Report Articles
President's Perspective – The University of Kansas Health System's Daily Live News Briefing

Drs Hawkinson and Stites

(Aug. 14, 2020) – Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to join Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer and Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of infection prevention and control, with the University of Kansas Health System, during their daily Facebook live briefing on COVID-19 issues. This was in fact their 100th program, and I wanted to say thank you to them for allowing Herb Kuhn, the president and CEO of the Missouri Hospital Association, and I to be their guests.

If you haven't taken the time to tune into this daily briefing, it is worth the effort. Dr. Stites and Dr. Hawkinson offer timely, fact-based information that is neither downplayed nor exaggerated. They are transparent about the number and type of patients they are seeing in the hospital. They answer questions thoughtfully and honestly, with equal doses of reality and reassurance. At a time when people are constantly searching for answers on a complicated and confusing subject, they serve as a trusted source of information.

During our conversation, we had an opportunity to talk about a wide variety of topics. We visited about the current status of cases and hospitalizations in Kansas and Missouri, and the rollercoaster nature of watching this data. We visited about the great work that healthcare providers are doing and how those providers are getting better each day at treating this difficult disease. We touched on what the future holds for a healthcare system that has been gut-punched by COVID-19; including the future of telehealth, the increasingly important role of public health, the light the virus has shown on racial disparities; and the need for our country to focus our efforts on manufacturing essentials like pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment here at home. Importantly, we examined the impact of the recent vote to expand Medicaid in Missouri, both on the improved health of its citizens, but also on the possibility of Kansas finally adopting expansion. Through their actions at the ballot box, Missourians have transformed Kansas into an island surrounded by states that have acted to support not only the most vulnerable citizens, but also the healthcare providers who serve those citizens.

The vast amount of information available about the COVID situation is often overwhelming, and the lack of clear policy about how to deal with that information can lead to a feeling of helplessness on the part of individuals. Dr. Stites and Dr. Hawkinson help to distill that mountain of information; and in addition, they provide important reassurance that together we can play a vital role in controlling the virus.
--Tom Bell