New exposures in case tied to hospital

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Both Citizens Memorial Hospital and the Polk County Health Center announced a new confirmed COVID-19 case, a nurse on the hospital’s medical/surgical unit, on Saturday evening, June 20.

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According to a CMH news release, the hospital’s administration informed co-workers and medical providers that the nurse tested positive Saturday.

Polk County Health Center educator Carol Bookhout said Saturday the nurse is the county's 11th confirmed COVID-19 case. 

“The nurse is at home recovering in quarantine,” the CMH release said. “The source of infection is believed to be travel related.”

The release said the nurse worked on the unit Wednesday, June 17, and participated in a CPR class Thursday morning, June 18, before showing symptoms of the virus.

A news release from the health center said its investigation revealed other public notifications are necessary.

On Tuesday, June 16, the nurse visited Bolivar’s Aldi store between noon and 1 p.m. and Bolivar’s Walmart between 1 and 2 p.m.

The individual, who the release said was not symptomatic and not masked, also visited Westlake Ace Hardware between 3:30 and 5 p.m.

On Thursday, June 18, the person visited Curly Que Barbeque in Bolivar from noon to 1 p.m. The case was mildly symptomatic and was not masked, the release said.

The nurse visited Walgreens on South Springfield Avenue between 3 and 4 p.m. on Friday, June 19. The release said the person was symptomatic and was masked.

Those who may have come into direct contact with the individual while infectious have been contacted by CMH’s infection prevention staff and the Polk County Health Center epidemiology team, the health center’s release said.

The hospital said it will be closely monitoring co-workers for symptoms. Those in quarantine will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms by health center staff, as well.

Anyone who was at the above public locations at the time of potential exposure is at low risk for contracting COVID-19, the health center’s release said, but should monitor for symptoms.

“There is no need to self-quarantine or isolate unless symptoms develop,” the release said.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell. If symptoms develop, people should seek medical attention, the release said.

COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, the release said. It spreads between people who are in close contact with one another.  

“CMH continues to practice universal masking, diligent hand hygiene and social distancing for all employees and has taken steps to prepare for this type of situation,” CMH’s infection prevention coordinator Joy Smith, R.N., said in the hospital’s release. “The nurse recognized and immediately reported the symptoms at the time of onset and followed our policy to ensure co-workers and patients were not put at risk.”

CMH employees are screened each shift for COVID-19 symptoms, have their temperatures taken before being allowed to work and must wear a mask, the release said.

Additionally, the release said patients who have appointments at the hospital or the Douglas Medical Center are screened for COVID-19 symptoms, have their temperatures checked and are asked to wear masks. If they don’t have a mask, one is provided.

“We are working to ensure the safety of our patients and employees during these challenging times,” Gary Fulbright, CEO/executive director of CMH and CMH Foundation, said in the release. “As COVID-19 cases rise in the area, it is not entirely unexpected that we would have cases confirmed in our caregivers. We are prepared and have protocols in place to protect our employees, patients, residents and the community.”

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The hospital is offering drive-thru testing for COVID-19 with a CMH doctor’s order. Patients with COVID-19 symptoms should complete a CMH virtual visit or call a CMH clinic for screening to obtain the order. More information is available at citizensmemorial.com.

As of Tuesday, June 23, Polk County reported three active COVID-19 cases, 136 test results pending and 36 residents quarantined. Over 1,100 people have been tested at CMH testing sites, the health center said, with 974 negative results.   

For more information about symptoms and warning signs for the virus, go to cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Editor Jessica Franklin Maull contributed to this report. 

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