You are here

Op/Ed: Bob Copple, Manhattan hospital president, provides insight on COVID-19

bob copple hospital president ascenson via christi manhattan

We are proud to be our community’s only full-service hospital. This task is an enormous responsibility, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a responsibility that we don’t take lightly.

I would like to thank our associates - our doctors, nurses, social workers, patient access representatives and other clinical and non-clinical individuals - who are continuing to serve our patients every day, morning and night.

As this is a rapidly evolving situation, our infection control team is in constant communication with the Riley County Health Department, Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that we are employing evidence-based infection control precautions and protocols and being good stewards of our supplies and staff resources.

On Friday, March 20, the decision was made to further restrict our visitation guielines. At this time, we are not allowing vistors. Exceptions will be made to allow one guest for patients in our labor and delivery unit and those in end-of-live situations. 

For example, patients who have symptoms can now call a local screening phone line, 785-323-6400, set up cooperatively by RCHD and our hospital and staffed by local healthcare representatives, to helpcommunity members determine their next steps.

While the immediate health risk is considered low for most of us, we have many community members at high risk for what could be a life-threatening COVID-19 infection. Consequently, it's imperative that we all do our part in battling its further spread.

Some of the actions we have so far include:

  • Reducing the number of entry points so that we could screen everyone who enters our facility for potential viral infection
  • Limiting the number of people in the hospital by temporarily suspending the use of on-site volunteers
  • Implementing visitation guidelines of one visitor per patient and no one under 18, while allowing the care team to make exceptions in extenuating circumstances
  • Postponing non-urgent elective surgical procedures
  • Temporarily suspending some hospital-based services and activities such as support groups and community meetings and education classes
  • Making arrangements for associates whose role allows them to do so to work remotely

We will continue to take further action as warranted by the ever-changing situation and proactively plan for our community's needs for when COVID-19 eventually reaches Riley County.

In the meantime, we ask that everyone join us in this effort by closely adhering to the advice of KDHE and the CDC: Wash your hands thoroughly and often, stay home if you are sick, practice "social distancing" by limiting travel, social gatherings and non-essential time outside your home, and turn to reliable sources of information for the most up-to-date information such as or our own website,

Additionally, Ascension Kansas now has a 24/7 call center for anyone needing COVID-19 information. That toll-free number, 1-855-782-1039, is staffed 24/7, seven days a week. Ascension Online Care, our urgent care virtual platform, is another way you can access care from within the safety of your own home. Go to and enter the code HOME for a discounted $20 rate being offered at this time.

We are proud to be Manhattan’s community hospital and hope you will join us in our efforts to keep our community safe. In doing so, you'll be doing your part to protect your family, friends and more vulnerable members of our community -- and the healthcare workers upon whose skills, training and commitment to quality care we all rely.

Additional resource: Virtual visitation tips

About Michelle Kennedy

Michelle Kennedy is the Senior Marketing Specialist for Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan, Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg, Ascension Via Christi in Fort Scott and Wamego Health Center. She is a proud wife and mom and loves cooking, camping and spending time outdoors, her dogs and reading.