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Gary Evans writes Hospital Infection Control & Prevention (HIC), Hospital Employee Health (HEH) and contributes to IRB Advisor (IRB). As senior writer at AHC, Evans has written numerous articles on infectious disease threats to both patients and health care workers, including pandemic influenza, MERS and Ebola. He has been honored for excellence in analytical reporting five times by the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
None of the American health care workers exposed to first two MERS cases contracted the coronavirus, but all were subject to rapid follow up and home quarantine policies following the exposures.
For example, in the hours before MERS was suspected in the second U.S. case in Orlando, several employees in the emergency department at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital had unprotected exposures.
With the help of nurse managers, the hospital quickly identified those exposed employees, says Ken Michaels, MD, MPH, medical director of occupational health at Orlando Health, the parent health system. Two physicians and 14 employees at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital were placed on home isolation for 14 days. Another six employees and one physician at Orlando Regional Medical Center were furloughed after it was discovered they were exposed when the patient accompanied a friend to the radiology department there.
Daily phone calls to exposed employees helped assuage fears, and use of a mobile occupational health clinic at the hospital made testing quick and convenient, Michaels says.
“We wanted to make sure they had an avenue to ask questions, to be heard,” says Michaels, who personally called each furloughed employee every day to ask about any symptoms and to respond to any concerns. “I really think that made a tremendous difference. It was very reassuring for them.”
For more on this story see the July issue of Hospital Employee Health