As York Hospital’s Infection Control team continues testing efforts in order to assess its progress containing the COVID-19 outbreak, no new patients have tested positive for COVID, while eight new staff members have received positive results. Additionally, there has been one more patient death, bringing that number to three. The eight additional COVID-19 positive healthcare workers, from this third round of interval testing, are all associated with Inpatient Adult Healthcare and bring the cumulative number of COVID-19 positive staff to 45 cases since the outbreak’s discovery on December 6. The total number of COVID-19 positive patients is 13; there have been no new positive COVID-19 results for patients since Wednesday, December 16. The December 16 update can be accessed here.

Per Dr. Evangeline Thibodeau, lead of the hospital’s Infection Control team, “Through our daily communication with Dr. Sears at the Maine CDC, we continue to move forward with interval testing of staff, following their approved guidelines. As we’ve seen from the onset of the outbreak, all staff positive results remain concentrated within the Inpatient Adult Healthcare team. As directed by the CDC, we will continue to respond and act quickly, expanding testing as needed. Additionally encouraging, as our caregivers who were COVID-positive continue to return from their ten day isolation periods, they join with those who have been previously reassigned to areas of more urgent need. This has allowed us to successfully maintain appropriate staffing levels for all services we offer.”

In addition to vigilant testing, York Hospital’s HICS (Hospital Incident Command System) team meets twice daily to assess any and all policies which may impact the outbreak, gauging the need to further restrict or address any issues that may arise.  Thus far, policies limiting the cafeteria to takeout for staff only, strict workstation practices prohibiting eating or drinking, limiting those activities only to one caregiver per closed room, have been imposed.  Proper and thorough masking, along with the use of protective eyewear for all staff at all times continues to be a top priority. Adjustments involving patients, such as restrictive in-person visitor policies and postponement of any elective surgeries requiring post-procedural admittance, continue to be enforced.

“This outbreak has been the center of our focus since the moment it was discovered, and we continue to treat it incredibly seriously.  All of our infection control practices have been thoroughly reviewed and strengthened, such that, at our recent and unannounced State licensing visit, there were no additional recommendations for us to implement,” said Dr. Jennifer Cutts, York Hospital’s chief medical offer and interim-CEO.  “We continue to work closely with the Maine CDC to help us manage the evolving data in real time. This remains an extremely challenging time for us and for our dedicated caregivers; as it is for all hospitals and long term care facilities, due to COVID-19’s higher level of community spread.  Healthcare providers will face an ongoing struggle with the virus, and with outbreaks, until the community prevalence of this virus decreases, or until vaccines become widely available.”

Additionally and as planned, at 8 a.m. yesterday, the hospital was pleased to join in the country-wide vaccination of its frontline caregivers.  With 800 doses of the recently “approved for emergency use” Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arriving Monday, York Hospital’s Vaccination Implementation team was ready to inoculate staff who provide patient care in the highest risk situations, including our ED, ICU and Inpatient Adult Health units. York Hospital Pharmacy Director, Marian Reilly, RPh and YH Physician Practice Resource Nurse, Tracy Colburn, RN agreed, “This implementation has been both exciting and rewarding. Beginning the two step vaccine process has provided the hospital with another opportunity to help curtail COVID’s spread – and offer every patient a safe place to receive their care.” Please read the full story here.

 As York Hospital works toward mitigating the outbreak, along with the COVID-19 surge, we remain committed to providing our community with the most recent and accurate information as it becomes available.