Well being care employees accounted for almost one in 5 of the confirmed coronavirus circumstances in Bexar County, in keeping with Metro Well being knowledge protecting the previous eight weeks.
Greater than 320 individuals who work in San Antonio-area well being care amenities have contracted the extremely contagious coronavirus, town statistics present. Metropolis spokeswoman Laura Mayes stated a few of the well being care employees’ infections are linked to the outbreak in late March on the Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Heart.
Almost all the facility’s residents had been contaminated and 18 died, and 29 workers examined optimistic for the virus.
At College Well being System, which operates the publicly funded College Hospital, a minimum of 60 workers have examined optimistic for the virus since March, stated spokeswoman Leni Kirkman. Most have recovered. The remaining are convalescing at dwelling.
UHS’s workforce totals 8,000, which incorporates everybody from janitors to directors.
The South Texas Veterans Well being Care System, which incorporates Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans’ Hospital, stated 14 workers had examined optimistic as of Might 5. Most have returned to work.
The regional Veterans Administration community employs a complete of 4,300 employees.
The coronavirus has contaminated a minimum of 1.2 million individuals within the U.S., leading to 76,032 deaths since January. In Bexar County, officers have reported 1,805 confirmed coronavirus circumstances as of Thursday, and 54 deaths from the illness.
Well being care personnel — docs, nurses, medical technicians and others — are among the many most liable to catching the coronavirus.
“Actually medical personnel, whether or not in places of work, hospitals or nursing houses, wherever they’re, are going to be at elevated danger as a result of they’re seeing people who find themselves extra prone to have the illness,” stated Dr. David Fleeger, an Austin surgeon and president of Texas Medical Affiliation.
In mid-April, the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention
estimated that between Feb. 12 and April 9, greater than 9,200 U.S. well being care employees had been sickened by the coronavirus, and a minimum of 27 of them died. The CDC knowledge confirmed that 73 p.c of the personnel getting sick had been girls with a median age of 42.
CDC officers stated the numbers in all probability understate the an infection stage, and urged extra surveillance to higher perceive the dangers of the pandemic to well being care employees.
“On the subject of our well being care employees, they’re our most precious useful resource in stopping the unfold of COVID-19. We’re doing every part we are able to to guard them,” stated a spokesman for the Chicago-based American Hospital Affiliation. “On the high of that checklist is ensuring they’ve the private protecting gear that retains them protected, and offers them peace of thoughts.”
Within the early weeks of the pandemic, San Antonio well being care employees — like their counterparts all over the world — skilled shortages of masks, goggles, robes and gloves. Many hospitals and clinics rationed medical provides, making ready for a surge of contaminated sufferers that largely did not materialize regionally.
Within the midst of the disaster, the Nationwide Institute for Occupational Security and Well being issued pointers directing employees to re-use N95 respirator masks to preserve provides. These are tightly-fitting masks designed to filter out 95 p.c of airborne particles.
Producers typically label N95 respirators for “single-use solely,” stated Lisa Campbell, a San Antonio-based public well being nurse with a doctorate in nursing apply.
In late March, Texas Nurses Affiliation stated its members had been advised to re-use masks for as much as seven days or till they had been visibly dirty. “We’re listening to suggestions we by no means thought we’d hear,” Campbell stated in a March 24 interview.
Hospital officers have devised methods to enhance the security of masks.
College Hospital developed a technique for sterilizing its N95 masks utilizing a hydrogen peroxide course of, which allowed a masks for use 4 instances. Methodist Healthcare System makes use of UV gentle to disinfect its N95 masks in order that they are often reused as much as 5 instances.
Metro Well being says dangers to hospital employees have been lowered as a result of correct protecting gear is extra available than it was early within the disaster.
The general public well being company has tracked native circumstances since March 13, however officers stated particulars in regards to the positions held by affected well being care employees should not accessible.
Mayes, town spokesperson, stated 18 p.c of Bexar County circumstances are individuals who work in well being care settings. Greater than half have recovered, and none have died.
It’s unclear from the Metro Well being knowledge whether or not the contaminated workers labored in shut proximity to COVID-19 sufferers.
“A upkeep employee or loading dock employee isn’t medical however we couldn’t see sufferers with out them,” UHS’s Kirkman stated, Anybody working inside their constructing, she added, is taken into account a vital well being care employee — not simply docs and nurses.
The county hospital system depends on housekeeping, billing and different workplace employees, in addition to lab techs, scientists, therapists and social employees to maintain the hospital operating.
Well being care practitioners and technical assist employees made up 6.three p.c of the San Antonio space’s complete employment as of Might 2019, in keeping with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Whereas some companies are beginning to reopen throughout town, UHS has ramped up its security protocols and continues to severely restrict guests on its campus.
The system’s security measures embrace necessary screening at each constructing’s entrance, banning in-person conferences of greater than two individuals and strictly enforced social distancing, with tape on the flooring to mark spacing.
Employees members even have a chosen hotline to right away converse to a medical supplier if they’ve signs, Kirkman stated.
If they’re despatched to be examined, they go to a devoted lane on the drive-thru testing web site at Freeman Coliseum. Outcomes come again the following day.
Laura Garcia covers the well being care business within the San Antonio and Bexar County space. To learn extra from Laura, become a subscriber. email@example.com | Twitter: @Reporter_Laura
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