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Memorial Health System employee tested for virus

MARIETTA — Memorial Health System announced Wednesday an employee is exhibiting symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“We have an employee of our wound center that is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19,” Associate Vice President Jennifer Offenberger said. “They have been assessed and tested, but those test results have not come back yet.”

The health system has a mobile COVID-19 test center set up at the Wayne Street campus in Marietta.

“However, it is important to us that the health and safety of our employees, our patients and our community is at the forefront,” she said. “So we made the decision, based on the recommendation from our Infectious Disease Physician Dr. (Francis) Wadskier, to self-quarantine those people that have been in potential contact with that employee at least until those results are back and from there we’ll know what we need to do.”

Offenberger said the number of patients the employee had contact with remained unknown Wednesday, but that the hospital system is working with the Ohio Department of Health to contact potentially exposed patients.

Eleven Memorial employees have been asked to self-quarantine, she said.

“That 11 is not our entire wound center team, which is good,” Offenberger said. “We can still deliver wound care to our patients. It may look different, we are working on schedules and locations… but we will still be able to offer that service.”

She said the remaining 11 employees are not at present scheduled to be tested.

“You don’t test everyone, you self-monitor and you assess and treat symptoms and based on the clinical protocols you decide when someone needs to be tested,” Offenberger said.

Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton said Wednesday during the state’s daily press conference that as of Wednesday 16 percent of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state are health care workers with 116 of them hospitalized.

Marietta-Belpre Health Department also released a statement Wednesday afternoon as a reminder to the public.

“COVID-19 is a Class A reportable disease, (and) the health department must be contacted immediately with positive test results for an in-depth investigation and follow up,” the health department said. “Our nurses will (then) contact every person that is at risk based on their investigation. They act as detectives to ensure the public is safe.”

The department said the personal information of individuals whose tests return positive remains under federal health information protections.

Offenberger said data reporting for both positive and negative testing at the Wayne Street campus will continue to be collected by the Ohio Department of Health.

“But our (intensive care unit) bed capacity is still doing well,” she said. “We have open beds and not in any critical stage yet.”

Offenberger also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on sanitization and cleaning of the health facilities are still being used at all of the Memorial offices.

“It is still safe to get your care here,” she said. “We want people to continue to get care and go to their appointments. We have seen a 100 percent increase in the use of our 24-hour nurse hotline and have added staff there to support that.”

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

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At a Glance

Guided to self-quarantine? Take these steps to monitor your health and practice social distancing:

* Take your temperature with a thermometer twice a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.

* Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period. Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.

* Avoid crowded places and limit your activities in public.

* Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).

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