COVID-19 Cluster FAQ | Sturdy Memorial Hospital | Attleboro, MA

COVID-19 Cluster FAQ

Over the last several months we have come together to navigate the challenges brought on by COVID-19. The safety of our staff and our patients has always been at the forefront of our efforts. On September 28, 2020, our Infection Control team identified a COVID-19 cluster on our Balfour nursing unit involving 4 patients. The cluster has now been contained and after undergoing a thorough cleaning, the unit is now open to patients. Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to restrict patient visitation to the Hospital until further notice.

We continue to test all patients and employees on the affected unit and are conducting contact tracing to identify others who need to obtain a COVID-19 test. Please see below for frequently asked questions about this situation.

How was this cluster discovered?

Our Infection Control team became aware of the cluster on one of our inpatient units on September 28, 2020. The have conducted thorough investigation of the source of the cluster through extensive contract tracing and staff interviews. At this time the infection control team is not able to determine whether the source of the cluster was an asymptomatic patient or staff member.

How many people were impacted?

At this time 4 patients and approximately 10 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 related to this cluster. There has not been a new patient infection related to this cluster since October 2, 2020 or a new staff case since October 5, 2020. We will continue to test individuals determined to be at risk for the duration of the 14 day incubation period.

I think I have been exposed. What should I do?

If it was determined through contact tracing that you are potentially at high risk for exposure during the period of concern, you will be contacted directly by our Infection Control team with information on how to obtain a COVID-19 test. If you were not contacted by our Infection Control Team and believe you were exposed please contact your primary care provider to discuss next steps.

How are you working to prevent this in the future?

Our immediate response to the cluster exposure involved closing the inpatient unit where the virus was first reported. At this time, all staff and patients on this unit have been tested and the unit has gone through a deep cleaning. Additionally, we have returned to our no visitor policy which was enacted during the height of the pandemic. This is being done to reduce the risk within our community. We have reinforced our existing safety protocols for long term prevention which includes:

  • Practicing frequent hand hygiene and use of antibacterial foam.
  • All patients and staff are required to wear a mask. Approved masks will also be required for visitors when the hospital re-opens.
  • All employees must attest to being symptom free upon arrival for their shift and have their temperatures taken. Patients receiving outpatient care are also screened upon arrival.
  • Any employee who is feeling ill must not report to work.
  • We have increased our use of eye protection, and staff now wear face shields or goggles for all patient care.
  • Social distancing is practiced in common areas, including break rooms, the cafeteria, and waiting areas with person capacity clearly marked on break room doors
  • Any interactions that can happen via phone call or video conference are done this way.
  • All patients being admitted to the hospital regardless of symptoms are being tested for COVID-19

I have an appointment or procedure scheduled. Is it safe to receive care?

Yes, it is safe to receive care at the Hospital. We are committed to your health and safety and have policies and procedures in place to protect you and our staff members. This incident occurred on September 28, 2020, we have since contacted all individuals who were potentially exposed during the period of concern and have provided testing for them. If you have questions, we encourage you to contact your provider directly.

As this is an evolving situation, we will update information as it becomes available. We ask that the community remain vigilant in wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and practicing hand hygiene to help prevent spread of illness.

Reviewed by Public Relations on October 15, 2020

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