York Hospital’s Infection Control team, headed by Evangeline Thibodeau, MD, infectious disease specialist, continues to focus its efforts on the testing and investigation of a COVID-19 cluster at the Hospital’s main campus in York, under the leadership of the Maine CDC. The cluster, originally identified on December 6, 2020, consisted of four staff members working on the Hospital’s Inpatient Adult Health Care area. In total, thus far, we have had 17 staff members, testing positive for Covid-19. The outbreak extends to other services as well, confined to the main building. Over 83 hospital staff have tested negative. Those with positive results exhibited mild symptoms, and sought care after testing in relation to the current investigation. Six patients have tested positive.
After a meeting with Dr. Stephen Sears of the Maine CDC at 9 a.m. Friday, December 11, Dr. Thibodeau was able to provide the following information, “We have completed our first round of universal testing for staff members of Inpatient Adult Healthcare, and will conduct our second round on Sunday, December 13. Due to the outbreak’s expansion to other services, testing will expand to include those caregivers with possible exposure as well. We will then proceed with interval testing every five days. The CDC does not recommend testing of all staff throughout the hospital.”
We have implemented the Hospital Incident Command System (HICS), which allows us to organize and facilitate optimal response to the overall surge in patients with COVID-19, along with needs created by the ongoing healthcare worker outbreak. Our HICS team is currently redistributing staff who possess appropriate and necessary skills across the organization to our sites and areas with the most urgent needs. Additionally, York Hospital has already implemented temporary closures to our Kittery Walk-In Service as of December 5, and York Hospital in Berwick services as of Saturday, December 12, both in response to current and future staffing considerations. We are only curtailing these two particular services at this time, as we are confident in our ability to continue outpatient care for these communities at our other walk-in care sites. We are also provided with a daily assessment of staffing supplies, ensuring the necessary tools for patient care remain available throughout all of our locations. York Hospital continues to offer all other services, including: emergent care, elective surgeries and special procedures, walk-in care, primary care, home care, specialty practices, laboratory, imaging services and rehab therapy.
At this time, we are still working, in partnership with the Maine CDC, to identify the possible factors contributing to the outbreak. As York Hospital continues to navigate the detours presented by the outbreak, we affirm our commitment through action. We mandate the following: proper masking, along with the addition of protective eye wear required for all staff, both clinical and non-clinical; staggering meal times to limit one person per room when consuming food/drink; and critically screening all who enter our doors. Additionally, we have further restricted our visitor policy.
We remain focused on the safety of our patients as we respond to Covid-19’s challenges. We will continue to provide updated information, with transparency and vigilance, as more details become available.