For the second time in two months, the Oregon Health Authority reported a COVID-19 workplace outbreak at CHI Mercy Medical Center.
The state said the latest investigation began on Friday after five cases were reported.
Four hospital employees tested positive and one is considered a presumptive positive, according to the hospital’s Facebook page.
“Please note, that no patients were exposed to COVID due to Mercy staff diligently following our PPE masking protocol,” the post read. “We, as always, prioritize the safety of both our patients and our staff.
“Unfortunately, the Oregon Health Authority has declared this a worksite outbreak even though community exposures and travel were significant contributors in these staff becoming positive for COVID-19.”
It was the second time the hospital appeared on the workplace outbreak list after the OHA listed the hospital as having 10 active cases in early August.
Mercy joins the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Health Care System and the Roseburg Forest Products plant in Riddle as active workplace outbreaks in Douglas County, according to the OHA release. The Roseburg VA earlier this week denied having an outbreak. According to the federal VA website it has reported two staff members with COVID-19 and five patients, none of whom were inpatients.
According to the OHA, case counts include all persons linked to a possible outbreak, including direct positive test results, family members and other close contacts. A workplace outbreak is reported by the state when a business has five or more cases — both confirmed and presumptive — and includes all persons linked to the outbreak, which may include household members and other close contacts. Even those who test negative for the virus but were once considered presumptive continue to count toward the workplace’s total case number until a 28-day period has passed without a new case.
“Mercy will continue to work collaboratively with the OHA and Douglas Public Health Network on COVID testing and reporting,” the hospital posted. “Mercy also remains committed to ensuring that our hospital, as the sole community healthcare organization offering inpatient services to patients diagnosed with COVID-19, can continue to meet the hospitalization needs of all of our community members.
“We are committed to ensuring the safety of our community members and staff.”
Hospital officials declined to comment further and instead referred reporters to the county government and the Douglas Public Health Network.
County COVID-19 spike continuesThe Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team reported six new cases on Wednesday.
Total case numbers have risen from 229 on Saturday to 246 by Wednesday.
“As September comes to an end, we sadly mark the month with a surge in cases. This should be very concerning to everyone,” the Response Team said in a press release.
The team said most recent cases have been attributed to travel or to social gatherings where people aren’t taking precautions like keeping their distance from each other and wearing masks.
Cases have been linked to birthday parties, weddings, funerals, prayer groups, play dates, visiting family members and back–to-school events.
“Again, we ask that you take a moment and revisit how you are socializing and please protect yourself and your loved ones from the spread of this virus. Please stay safe and remember to be kind to others,” the press release said.
Three Douglas County residents are currently hospitalized with the disease, while 36 county residents are being supported in isolation.
Four Douglas County residents have died from COVID-19.
Douglas County Public Health Officer Bob Dannenhoffer is also urging county residents, especially seniors or those with weak immune systems, to vaccinate against the flu.
“This year, COVID-19 will be circulating and the co-existence of COVID and flu will make this a very difficult year. We do not yet have a vaccine for COVID-19 but do have a good vaccine for the flu. So, the very best thing you can do to protect yourself and others in the community is to get a flu shot,” he said.
Managing Editor Ian Campbell contributed to this report.