POTOSI, Mo. (March 12, 2020) - On Wednesday afternoon a physician at Washington County Memorial Hospital removed herself from patient care after she was notified by a hospital in another state that a patient she had cared for in that state on March 6 had tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Immediately after being notified she shared the information with administrators at Washington County Memorial. The Emergency Department physician was alerted to cover any emergencies on the hospital’s Medical/Surgical Unit. The doctor who removed herself from patient care serves as a hospitalist, seeing patients on behalf of their primary care physicians.
“At that time, we called the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) hotline for guidance,” said chief nursing officer Jenifer Ferguson, RN, MSN, CPHQ. “DHSS said the hospitalist is at medium risk for exposure and recommended a 14-day quarantine and self-monitoring of symptoms.”
The state health department indicated that all patients and staff who were in contact with the hospitalist are at low risk, because the doctor had not displayed any symptoms, Ferguson said. The state advised that no additional quarantine would be necessary for staff or patients.
“We have arranged for substitute hospitalist coverage, and we are taking every precaution advised by DHSS,” Ferguson said.
Hospital staff and patients have been notified that they are at low risk of exposure. All are reminded to practice proper hand hygiene as well as coughing and sneezing etiquette.
Hospitalists at Washington County Memorial are provided by a physician staffing agency. The hospitalist who removed herself from patient care Wednesday, had just started her shift at Washington County Memorial after having been assigned to a hospital in Ohio where that patient had tested positive for COVID-19.