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HICprevent

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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Florida hospital moved quickly to track down ER workers exposed to MERS cases

March 18th, 2015

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.”

--Michele Marill

For more on this story see the July issue of Hospital Employee Health