Contracted associate at LMH Health tests positive for COVID-19; infection prevention measures reduced potential exposure
We learned today that a contracted associate with LMH Health tested positive for COVID-19. The contracted associate was unknowingly exposed to COVID-19 outside of our facility. The contracted associate was not symptomatic while working in the hospital. They began experiencing symptoms outside of work and did not return. In addition, they sought treatment outside of our facility, where a COVID-19 test was administered. On notification of a positive test result, the associate immediately notified their employer, who instantly notified LMH Health.
Due to infection protection measures in place, the contracted associate did not have any direct patient contact, and did not experience COVID-19 related symptoms until after the conclusion of their shift. The contracted associate adhered to all LMH Health policies and procedures, including being masked at all times and maintaining proper social distancing. The contracted associate is following CDC, KDHE and Public Health recommendations regarding isolation, in conjunction with our Employee Health team, and remains in contact to monitor his/her symptoms and health status. LMH Health is in the process of contacting a small number of staff who may have had contact with this person; those with potential exposure have been placed in a 14-day quarantine per guidelines. Due to patient privacy laws, no additional information can be provided about the contracted associate at this time.
“There have been a number of instances of COVID-19 diagnoses among workers in the healthcare setting throughout the region, and this can be concerning for our employees, patients and community members,” said Russ Johnson, LMH Health President and CEO. “We take significant steps to protect all staff and providers, but COVID-19 presents a unique and difficult challenge when it comes to infection prevention. In this case, the specific and new policies we put into place prevented exposure to patients, and we are grateful to our infectious disease team for the extraordinary guidance they have provided throughout this pandemic. Our attention remains focused on keeping our staff members, clinicians and patients safe — especially as we care for our community in this time of extraordinary need. Our thoughts are with this team member, to whom we wish the speediest of recoveries.”
Upon receiving notification of a positive test result, LMH Health immediately notified the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, and the organizations are working together to provide contact tracing. If exposure occurred, those individuals will be notified and precautionary steps will be taken to reduce the potential for further spread.
Here are the safety precautions LMH Health is taking during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Following infection prevention recommendations from our infectious disease physician team, KDHE and the CDC.
- Screening and masking all patients, employees – both contracted and employed - and providers upon arrival
- Requiring masks to be worn by everyone at all times in our facilities
- Restricting visitors to the hospital and clinics
- Using Telehealth for patient appointments wherever possible
- Providing regular reminders to staff about infection prevention protocol and procedures
- Monitoring supply levels for personal protective equipment
LMH Health closely monitors the guidance provided by the CDC and KDHE, and provides direct and timely communication with teams to ensure awareness around the latest recommendations.
In an earlier statement, Dr. Christopher Penn, infectious disease physician at LMH Health, said that the nature of this pandemic is such that a hospital can do everything right and still end up with exposure to COVID-19.
“We do everything we can when it comes to infection prevention—including monitoring all staff and providers,” said Dr. Penn. “We will continue to monitor this situation closely to mitigate any concerns.”
LMH Health’s policies prohibit an employee – contracted and employed – from working if they’ve had a fever or symptoms similar to those of COVID-19. Staff have been provided education on self-monitoring and are screened before each shift. During the screening, staff have their temperatures taken and an appropriate mask is provided.
“We work hard to ensure that our employees and providers know what to do if they think they’ve been exposed, or if they have symptoms,” said Penn. “Unfortunately, no system is impervious to COVID-19, but a proactive approach may prevent issues from becoming more widespread.”