Monument Health: caregiver with COVID-19 may have had contact with 100 patients, staff at cancer center

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Officials with Monument Health offered more details today surrounding the caregiver diagnosed with COVID-19 and that person’s contact with patients and other healthcare staff.

Monument Health President & CEO Paulette Davidson said in a press conference that the worker, a caregiver at Monument’s John T. Vucurevich Cancer Care Institute, potentially came in contact with “around 100” patients over the course of a day and a half. She also noted that officials are informing anyone who may have been in the area where the employee worked. Davidson says hospital officials were made aware of the potential case when the person began developing symptoms after recent travel within the U.S.

She says the person who tested positive “most probably became exposed to the virus during travel,” and that Monument was not aware of the patient’s recent trip prior to the appearance of symptoms. Monument Health does not currently have a self-quarantine policy regarding travel within the United States.

In addition to the isolation of patients both at home and in care, Monument has sent ten caregivers and two physicians home to quarantine for an extended period. There is no word on how many have received COVID-19 tests.

Davdison says that despite having to send caregivers home for isolation, the hospital is not currently experiencing a staffing shortage. Monument has postponed all elective procedures, and is reallocating their workforce through a staffing pool.

Monument Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brad Archer says shortage concerns are more centered on equipment and testing supplies, like sample swabs, of which he says there is a worldwide shortage. Right now, Monument Health is coordinating with suppliers of crucial medical equipment from around the country to ensure that needs are filled to properly treat patients.

Archer says local manufacturing is also an option, and he has been in close contact with local business and community leaders to further explore such an avenue.

This week, two other health care systems in South Dakota – Avera and Sanford Health – announced that they are now processing COVID-19 tests in their own in-house labs, which increases overall testing capacity and expedites results. Right now, Davidson says Monument is expecting to bring similar capabilities on-line by “mid-to-late April.” Currently, tests from patients exhibiting “high-level” symptoms are sent to the State Lab in Pierre. Others are sent to either the Mayo Clinic or to private laboratories.

Monument Health says they are cooperating fully with the state Department of Health.

Categories: Coronavirus