Healthcare Providers (HCP) can work while waiting for COVID-19 test results as long as they are symptom free, they must also wear a mask at all times and social distance as much as possible.
According to the CDC, Healthcare workers have separate guidelines to follow because they are the frontline defense in this current pandemic. Healthcare workers have training and policies in place to properly deal with infectious diseases, and COVID is no different. The biggest adjustment with this disease, is the masks are worn by all personnel, workers and patients at all times while inside medical facilities.
All employees must be screened daily. There are two entrances into the Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center building with a screening station for both employees and patients. There is an employee screening log that asks for name, department, any symptoms, contact with a confirmed COVID patient, their temperature is recorded and the employee must sign the log. These logs are completed every shift, every day.
Due to their often extensive and close contact with vulnerable individuals, the CDC guidance recommends managing occupationally exposed HCP conservatively. Testing of HCP can be considered in four situations:
Testing HCP with signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19
Testing asymptomatic HCP with known or suspected exposure to SARS-CoV-2
Testing asymptomatic HCP without known or suspected exposure to SARS-CoV-2 for early identification in special settings (e.g., nursing homes)
Testing HCP who have been diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection to determine when they are no longer infectious
So, what happens when an employee tests positive? Rhonda Mason, chief of nursing, follows up with all employees who have been tested. If an employee is not feeling well, they are sent home. This is the common practice will any illness, not just COVID. The positive employee must quarantine at home and cannot return to work until after 10 days with their symptoms improving and/or fever free for 72 hours.
Hospitals are already required by the state to have regulations and standards in place with patient care and air circulation. The requirements vary depending on the type of room, but include maintaining negative pressure to the adjoining spaces, or positive pressure to the adjoining spaces and typically have laminar flow or some other air pattern that limits the infectious particles/spores from being transmitted, and the exhaust air must be directly ducted outdoors and is commonly HEPA filtered, HEPA filtered exhaust air is only required if the ducting merges with other ductwork.
With policies in place, CVRMC has been able to successfully treat patients with infectious diseases and patients who are in need of routine care.