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MHSC works with Public Health on employee contact tracing

  • Category: Health & Wellness
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Deb Sutton, Sweetwater Memorial Public Information Officer
MHSC works with Public Health on employee contact tracing
Contact Tracing Quiz
The MHSC Incident Command sends out daily emails to staff with updates on coronavirus preparedness, new policies, new ways to prevent exposure, tips, precautions and more. This illustration was included in a recent email to staff.

Hundreds of employees have been swabbed for coronavirus

ROCK SPRINGS — As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues, Sweetwater County is seeing more cases of the COVID-19 disease.

Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County is no exception.

“Just like businesses and healthcare entities all over the county, we have seen a slight increase in the number of staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19,” said MHSC spokeswoman Deb Sutton. “The hospital continues to work with Sweetwater County Public Health in its contact tracing efforts to ensure that every potential contact is notified.

“If there is ever a risk of exposure to patients, MHSC will take appropriate measures and alert the public. As always, if there are changes to visitation policies, to patient exposure or involving a department closure as a result of a COVID-related incident, the public would be notified immediately.

“MHSC works closely with Sweetwater County Public Health in their contact tracing efforts,” Sutton said. “If a risk is identified through tracing, the public would be notified.”

As of Thursday, July 16, 11 hospital employees have had a positive PCR test for SARS-CoV-2, and therefore are diagnosed with COVID-19, said Kim White, MHSC Incident Commander. All 11 hospital employees have been able to safely isolate at home.

SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus) is the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease, Public Health Director Kim Lionberger explained. Antibody tests are not being used to confirm active infection.

“To date, there have been no COVID exposures between patients and MHSC staff,” Lionberger said.

“As the pandemic continues, large employers like Sweetwater Memorial will see more staff exposed,” Lionberger said. “All reported cases are investigated with information patients have listed as close contacts. Everyone on that list is notified and are asked to quarantine.”

To help with contact tracing, MHSC has taken steps to track visitors coming into the hospital and the Specialty Clinics, Sutton said. When arriving at the hospital or any of the Specialty Clinics, door monitors ask visitors to sign in with the date and time of their arrival. Patients can easily be tracked through physician or procedure appointment schedules should the need arise. Everyone entering an MHSC facility is asked to use a face covering and apply hand sanitizer upon entering and leaving.

The hospital has taken numerous precautions to ensure the health and safety of visitors, patients, staff and the community:

  • All hospital employees must wear masks at the hospital and must remain 6 feet apart, unless involved in direct patient care.
  • Employees are not allowed to eat together in the hospital café or in break rooms. The hospital café remains closed to the public.
  • MHSC’s Employee Health Department continues to randomly select about 50 staff members weekly to volunteer for COVID-19 sampling. Hundreds of employees have been swabbed.
  • Sweetwater Memorial has heightened its already CDC-compliant cleaning standards. These cleaning standards apply to all patient areas, visitor areas and clinics.
  • Visitation restrictions remain in place.
  • The COVID-19 Preparedness Incident Command team continues to meet twice weekly to address concerns, review health updates, and discuss its ongoing response to the pandemic.
  • Incident Command sends out daily emails to staff with updates on coronavirus preparedness, new policies, new ways to prevent exposure, tips, precautions and more.
  • Rounds are made daily in various departments to train and educate staff, and answer questions pertaining to the pandemic and any other areas of concern. Those involved in the rounding include a mix of Incident Command team members, department directors, executive leaders, and CEO Irene Richardson.

“We are doing our best to test as many patients as possible and to work very closely with Public Health to perform contact tracing,” Richardson said. “So far, we have tested almost 4,000 people in Sweetwater County. We are doing our best to keep our patients, staff and community safe.”