Kaiser hospital braces for potential staff shortage after COVID-19 outbreak

Kaiser Permanente San Jose (Calif.) Medical Center is considering additional staffing after a COVID-19 outbreak in which 44 staff members were infected and one worker died. 

In a statement shared with Becker's Hospital Review Jan. 5, the hospital said it "has been engaging additional staff as part of our readiness for an increase in the number of COVID cases in the emergency department and hospital."

California is seeing a surge, with 29,633 new cases reported Jan. 4, a 1.2 percent increase from the day prior. Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center also has staff sidelined because of the outbreak.

Forty-four emergency department staff members tested positive for COVID-19 between Dec. 27 and Jan. 1, and one of those workers has died, according to the hospital. 

Irene Chavez, senior vice president and area manager of Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center, said in a statement earlier this week that the cases may be tied to an air-powered, inflatable costume worn by a staff member on Christmas Day.

Since the outbreak, the hospital has prohibited these types of costumes, and it is reinforcing safety precautions among staff, including physical distancing and no gathering in break rooms, no sharing of food or drinks, and mask-wearing, said Ms. Chavez. She said the emergency department is also being deep-cleaned, in addition to the cleaning protocols already in effect, and healthcare workers will be offered weekly COVID-19 testing. 

The hospital requires employees who have symptoms or test positive to self-quarantine at home. 



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