Two health care providers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston are infected with the coronavirus, and the hospital is contacting patients and staff who may have been exposed.
In a memo to staff Saturday, hospital leaders said they are in close contact with state and city public health officials and are following their guidance about how to proceed.
“As the novel coronavirus spreads across the globe, it is inevitable that health care workers will be infected, as is now the case at the Brigham,” wrote Dr. Charles Morris, associate chief medical officer and incident commander. ''We are in the process of contacting patients and staff who may have been exposed.''
"While this news is unsettling, please be assured that our Brigham community has been preparing for this eventuality, and we will continue to take every precaution to protect our patients, their loved ones and our staff throughout this unprecedented pandemic,'' wrote Morris. The memo was also signed by Julia Sinclair, senior vice president of clinical services and incident commander.
Brigham spokesperson Erin McDonough said the providers did not work while symptomatic. She said the hospital can not identify or release details about the providers or their specific jobs because of privacy rules. Another person with knowledge of the situation said they are both doctors.
McDonough said in an email that the hospital undertook an “intensive tracing process” that involved a detailed review of every patient and employee the providers interacted with during a particular time period.
Staff who had close contact with either provider ― 15 minutes or more at a distance of less than 6 feet ― are quarantined at home for 14 days and undergo twice daily symptom monitoring, she said. Those with no close contact are allowed to work but must wear a mask and monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days.
Patients with close contact are monitored for symptoms. An environmental services team has been deployed to thoroughly clean the areas where the providers have spent time, McDonough said.
Doctors and nurses are at high risk for contracting the virus, especially if they treat patients who they do not know are infected.
At Berkshire Medical Center, where at least five patients have been hospitalized with the virus, about 70 nurses are quarantined at home after being exposed to those patients, according to the Massachusetts Nurses Association.
There was a gap of several days after the patients were admitted and before they tested positive for Covid-19, during which nurses were not wearing the highest level of protective equipment, hospital executives have said.
At New York-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville, N.Y., a lawyer from New Rochelle was admitted and had contact with dozens of health care workers before he was diagnosed with the virus. At least one staff member has tested positive for Covid-19 and many others were sent into quarantine, the New York Times reported.
Liz Kowalczyk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.