Sturdy Memorial Hospital COVID-19 cluster cases jump 10 in week

A COVID-19 cluster at Attleboro, Mass.-based Sturdy Memorial Hospital has expanded from three cases to 14, reports The Boston Globe

The hospital banned visitors Oct. 1 after announcing a COVID-19 cluster involving three patients. On Sept. 29, Sturdy Memorial closed its Balfour surgical wing, where the cluster is believed to have originated. Officials say at least four patients and 10 employees have now contracted the virus. 

All cases thus far have been tied to the Balfour wing, said Brian Patel, MD, chief of emergency services at Sturdy Memorial.  

"We have tested several hundred employees to be on the safe side and are trying to do everything we can to contain further transmission," Dr. Patel told the Globe, adding that the cause of the outbreak is still being investigated.

Dr. Patel said hospital employees are working hard to remain vigilant, saying, "This is a marathon, and it's something we have to continue to keep on top of." 

The Attleboro cluster is the second recent known hospital outbreak in Massachusetts, following a continuing outbreak at Boston-based Brigham and Women's. The recent rising rate of positive COVID-19 cases statewide is likely fueling the clusters, according to Shira Doron, MD, infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at Boston-based Tufts Medical Center. Dr. Doron also said a hospital culture where employees work while sick, especially per diem workers who don't get paid if they are out, is also likely a factor. 


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