BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - As of May 12, 2020 more than 90 Med Center Health employees tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic started in mid-March.
This includes Dr. Rebecca Shadowen - Infectious Diseases, Travel Medicine, and Healthcare Epidemiology at Med Center Health – who believes she contracted the virus through community acquired exposure after an elderly family member received care at home from an infected caregiver. Med Center Health says Dr. Shadowen is in serious but stable condition and showing some encouraging signs.
On Monday it was reported that Wanda Johnson a CNA for Med Center Health's inpatient unit, passed away from the coronavirus.
We submitted the following questions to Med Center Health and received these responses by Jill Payne, Executive Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer for Med Center Health:
Given the number of employees that have tested positive for COVID-19, do you plan to change protocol or increase PPE among staff?
Med Center Health follows the CDC guidelines for personal protective equipment use by staff. Additionally, we recently implemented a requirement of face shields for all employees with direct patient care to help protect from inadvertent exposure through the eyes and to decrease the chance of self-inoculation through touching of the face.
This protection goes above and beyond current CDC guidelines.
Will all wear N95 now? What will next steps look like in regards to keeping employees safe?
Currently, CDC guidelines do not call for all employees to wear N95 masks. The type of mask to be worn depends upon the level of interaction between the staff member and the patient. Med Center Health provides the appropriate PPE to staff members based on that level of interaction. Our supply chain staff has done a phenomenal job obtaining personal protective equipment, including N95 masks, required for the safety of our workforce. Because guidance from the CDC and the Department of Public Health changes frequently, we continuously monitor the evolving situation to allow us to implement the changes once they are received.
What kind of protection did Wanda Johnson have at the hospital? Are CNA's and non-nurses and doctors getting paper masks?
All employees have access to the personal protection equipment needed for their job. Additionally, employees and providers in direct patient care are provided a face shield as an added layer of protection. Other types of masks and personal protective equipment, including N95s, are available to employees based upon their level of interaction with patients in accordance with CDC guidelines.
Do you believe this is contributing to the number of employees that have tested positive for COVID-19?
The number of employees testing positive for COVID-19, whether at Med Center Health or any other health system across the country, is a function of several factors, including the level of community-wide spread as currently witnessed in Warren County.
What do you believe the contributing factor to the outbreak among employees is?
When a virus is this widespread in the community, it is impossible to know where employees may have been exposed. Unfortunately, there are many people in the community who are not wearing masks when they go out, following rigorous hand hygiene, or practicing social distancing. As the State opens up, it will be even more important for individuals to take personal responsibility and comply with these recommendations. Med Center Health is a regional health care system in southcentral Kentucky with over 3,800 employees, and a flagship acute care hospital with the largest dedicated COVID-19 unit in the region. Because of our unique opportunity to care for these patients, a proportionate increase in employees testing positive is unfortunate but expected. We remain grateful to all health care workers, including our dedicated employees, for providing exceptional care to our patients despite the risks associated with the pandemic.
Do you have a breakdown of what employees were infected? Are most CNAs, doctors, nurses, janitorial staff, or other?
Med Center Health closely monitors employees testing positive for COVID-19. With over 3,800 employees, the number of positive cases for Med Center Health is still relatively low, and the majority of employees who have tested positive have had mild symptoms. The course of the virus is unpredictable and unfortunately, some patients will become more seriously ill and not recover. Each employee group mentioned above has been affected by COVID-19 infections.
How is Dr. Shadowen doing?
Serious but stable and showing some encouraging signs.