COVID-19 outbreak at Rhode Island hospital leaves at least 29 employees, 9 patients infected

Eleanor Slater Hospital in Cranston, R.I., is facing a "significant" COVID-19 outbreak partially linked to employees reporting to work with cold and flu-like symptoms, reports the Providence Journal. 

Employees were initially made aware of the outbreak Nov. 13, with "a dozen members and six patients" infected at that time, according to a staff email from Brian Daly, MD, CMO of the hospital. The Providence Journal obtained copies of the emails. The outbreak grew Nov. 16, with at least 29 staff members and nine patients infected. 

In a Nov. 16 email to staff, Randal Edgar, hospital spokesperson, said contact tracing efforts uncovered some staff members reported to work despite "significant symptoms of cold or flu like illness." The number of employees under quarantine is unknown. 

Two of the most serious COVID-19 patients were transferred to a different hospital for further treatment, and Eleanor Slater has banned visitors, Mr. Edgar told the Providence Journal. Any patients who test positive are moved to the hospital's COVID-19 unit. Eleanor Slater has implemented patient surveillance testing twice a week in units where there was a positive case in an effort to prevent additional spread, Mr. Edgar said. 

Mr. Edgar did not directly respond to questions from Becker's regarding how many staff members are quarantining or if the outbreak has caused any shifts in patient flow, but shared a statement detailing the additional surveillance testing referenced above and the daily precautions ESH takes, which include unit-based testing, screening all staff upon arrival to work and a no-visitor policy. 

Editor's note: This story was updated Nov. 23 at 4:20 pm CST. 

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