Healdsburg District Hospital’s Infection Prevention team has been working with the Sonoma County Public Health Department after 12 of its staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days.
The contact tracing performed on the individual cases confirmed that the virus was contracted outside of the hospital and that the infections were not related.
Gina Fabiano, head of communications and marketing at Healdsburg District Hospital, said the 12 confirmed positive cases are not considered an outbreak since they were isolated from each other and not created by a single patient or staff member internally.
“They were individual cases contracted from outside the hospital which could be an indication of the high infection rate the county is experiencing,” Fabiano said.
When asked if any of the positive cases among staff work at other hospitals or health facilities Fabiano said only “a few folks who tested positive” work at other facilities.
The hospital has been maintaining strict screening procedures that align with county and state mandates, ensuring all staff are screened before their shift begins and again at the end of their shift. Screenings include touchless thermometer readings and a questionnaire designed to detect any early signs of the virus.
The initial cases that were confirmed positive last week were detected using this screening process and the individuals were then tested and immediately sent home to isolate.
In response to the situation, testing for all staff has been issued and a weekly schedule for ongoing testing to be performed has been implemented per the recommendation of the county health officer.
“This group of individual cases is a reminder that the county is experiencing a high virus infection rate and that extra precautions must be taken when going about our daily lives,” said Jim Schuessler, chief executive officer of Healdsburg District Hospital. “The hospital is an extremely safe environment for our staff and patients during the pandemic, and we are dedicated to maintaining the highest level of safety possible. However, we cannot control the actions of individuals once they leave our facilities, placing the burden of responsibility squarely on the shoulders of each individual to ensure their own protection.”
Internal communication alerting all staff was sent out when the first few positive tests were confirmed with a reminder of protocols for masks and social distancing when not at work.
Additional communication and education efforts are being developed to ensure all hospital staff members are made aware of the issue and that full participation is expected and required to stop this incident and prevent future ones.