CCHD refuses to comment after first COVID-19 testing

In a time where expeditious communication and conveying public information is critical, management at the Cedar County Health Department has declined to speak to Cedar County’s newspaper of record.

Registered nurse Jenean Ehlers, who also serves as the community services manager for the county’s health department, did not answer or return calls from the Cedar County Republican over the past weekend, and her voicemail was full at the last attempted outreach the afternoon of Sunday, March 22 — meaning there was no way to leave Ehlers a voice message to request information at the time of attempted communications.

Via text message, Ehlers offered the CCR two words: “No comment.”

Last week, during a city council meeting in El Dorado Springs, Ehlers made statements about COVID-19 and Cedar County Memorial Hospital’s policy of directing possibly-infected or confirmed-case patients to larger medical facilities or arranging ambulance transportation to larger hospitals in the area.

Ehlers later denied making said comments — the audio of which was recorded by CCR staff, supplied to CCMH upon request and conveyed to our readers accurately. An attempt also was made to explain away Ehlers’ statement when CCMH administration implied to the CCR these comments “might have been taken out of context.” Again, these statements were conveyed accurately as Ehlers’ previously said in a situation where symptoms were worsening or a person had a confirmed case of COVID-19, they will be directed or transported to larger medical facilities outside the county.

To clarify any public misunderstandings — and in accordance with hospital and health department public information — CCMH is testing for COVID-19; the facility is not equipped to handle ventilation patients and currently is not treating any inpatient COVID-19 patients.

In circumstances such as these, part of any sound journalistic approach to a situation of this magnitude requires a minimum of four things: accuracy, expedition, communication and transparency. And, being met with denial and unclear communication from local health department leadership is not exemplary of the function any health department has within a community. It also hampers access to concise answers and crucial information which is supposed to be gleaned from said entity.

Very much a supporter of the safety and security of all Cedar County residents, small businesses, local resources and our governing bodies, CCR staff owes current and accurate information to its readers — even when it may not be received enthusiastically.

The CCR will maintain an open door for communications with all government entities and convey vetted information from federal, state and county outlets as they continue to become available.

At the time of press, Ehlers had not contacted CCR since her last communication with this publication’s staff.

Additional inquiries relevant to CCHD services, its current policies regarding COVID-19 testing results, ongoing services and out-of-area treatment protocols can be made by calling the health department’s offices at (417) 876-5477.

(1) comment


Well, I guess it was true what she said. Not a very good representation of the hospital that is trying to pass a property rax to keep it open. Maybe CMH needs to dig in their deep pockets and aquire the hospital and run it like it should be. It is worth having in our county and community, it's a shame they are not acting like they are a part of our community. If I was the hospital administrator and the board, I would ask for her resignation.

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