An Island Hospital staff member and a patient who came into contact with that employee tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week.
Hospital leadership found out on Friday, Sept. 25, that a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19, CEO Charles Hall said. That prompted an investigation done in coordination with Skagit County Public Health.
Everyone who worked with that person or was known to have come into contact with them at the hospital — 17 employees and 14 patients — was tested. The positive employee is isolating at home.
This was the fifth staff member to test positive since the pandemic began, but the first time anyone else tested positive who had been exposed to that employee, hospital spokeswoman Laura Moroney said.
All cases of patients seen at Island Hospital who are from Skagit County are investigated by Skagit County Public Health, said Anita McCoy, the hospital’s director of quality and risk. Patients who come from other counties are contacted by their county’s health department.
The hospital is looking into the COVID-19 policies and procedures surrounding both the patient and the staff member, she said.
Everyone who comes into the hospital is checked for symptoms and given a temperature check before entering. Face masks are required for all patients, staff and visitors.
“Based on our investigation, there is currently no indication that (hospital) services should be changed,” Skagit County Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Leibrand said in a statement.
If an Island Hospital employee tests positive, the protocol is that the internal Employee Health department talks to that employee about all contacts, starting from two days before symptoms up until the day they test positive. The CDC defines “close contact” as being within 6 feet of someone for 15 minutes or more, McCoy said.
Then, the leadership team meets with the employee’s department head and Employee Health to determine next steps. Working with the county Public Health, everyone in contact with the employee who tested positive is then tested.
All employees with symptoms of COVID-19 are asked to stay home until at least one day after fever has gone away and respiratory symptoms have improved. That day must be at least 10 days after symptoms first appeared, according to the hospital.
If employees with symptoms tests negative, they are still asked to stay home until symptoms improve, according to hospital policy.