To keep our community informed, Northern Light Inland Hospital is providing an update regarding direct and indirect staff exposures to a COVID-19 positive patient last week. We know there are questions and we want to help answer them and reassure our community that Inland is a safe place to receive care.
Please see the interview below with Gavin Ducker, MD, Inland Hospital’s senior physician executive and co-president of the Northern Light Health Medical Group (pictured right).
1-Are patients safe at Northern Light Inland Hospital?
Dr. Ducker: Yes, patients are safe at Inland Hospital. We have one COVID patient here now and that patient is being cared for consistent with Maine CDC guidelines. We are working closely with the Maine CDC regarding staff exposures and they are completely satisfied that other patients at Inland have not been put at risk.
2-What is the update on the staff exposures?
Dr. Ducker: Ten staff members have been quarantined after direct and indirect exposure to our hospitalized COVID patient last week. (Direct exposure means they had prolonged face-to-face contact with the patient. Indirect exposure means they may have had prolonged exposure to the person who was face-to-face with the patient.) We just received results that of those ten, two employees have tested positive for COVID-19. The two employees are not care providers and, more importantly, had social contact with the patient prior to admission and as visitors in the hospital before the patient’s COVID diagnosis. The two employees are isolating at home.
3-What departments did the quarantined staff work in at the hospital?
Dr. Ducker: Please understand that we have an obligation to protect the privacy of both patients and staff and therefore are prohibited from sharing this kind of specific information. But please know that the contact tracing process we are conducting with the Maine CDC is the standard way to identify any staff who may have been exposed.
4-How did the staff exposures happen?
Dr. Ducker: The two staff who tested positive had social contact with the infected patient prior to admission and were not part of the patient’s care team. Other members of the team were directly and indirectly exposed to the patient prior to their COVID diagnosis and also exposed to the two employees who later tested positive.
5-What is Inland doing now to prevent other staff exposures and thereby keep patients and visitors safe?
Dr. Ducker: Inland Hospital employs all safety measures recommended by the Maine CDC and more. These include disinfecting high-touch surfaces and public spaces, requiring masks or face coverings for all patients, staff, and visitors, providing appropriate PPE for healthcare staff, reducing the number of people in waiting areas through advance registration, and providing drive-up COVID-19 testing to reduce contact in our facilities. We continue to work closely with the Maine CDC.
6-How can the community help?
Dr. Ducker: COVID-19 continues to be present in all Maine communities despite major federal, state and local efforts to eliminate its spread. In this regard, it is important to remember that there is still a lot that is unknown about the virus, including the exact way people get it. The most important assistance members of our communities can provide is to follow the Maine CDC guidelines: always wear a mask/face covering around other people, keep a six-foot distance between yourself and others, sanitize your hands often, and get a flu shot. Thank you.