PROVIDENCE — Eleanor Slater Hospital’s Zambarano unit in Burrillville is closing to visitors because two staff members tested positive for COVID-19, the state announced Tuesday.
The state-run facility was one of dozens in the state that did not meet Rhode Island’s Oct. 1 vaccine requirement deadline for health care workers. The state could not immediately say if the two staffers were vaccinated or not.
Randal Edgar, a spokesman for the state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Develpomental Disabilities and Hospitals, said the precautions will last for two weeks, and include the following:
- “Only essential staff will be allowed on patient units”
- “Floating of staff will be kept to a minimum”
- “Staff who work on the affected patient units and patients on those units will be tested twice a week”
- “Patients and staff on other units will be tested once a week”
- “Staff who do not work on or go to patient units will continue to be tested monthly”
- “Unvaccinated staff will continue to be tested twice a week”
- “Patients, the vast majority of whom are vaccinated, must stay on their units and wear masks outside their rooms.”
The state-run Eleanor Slater system includes campuses in Cranston and Burrillville. Patients have a range of psychiatric and medical needs. In Burrillville, that includes patients who have long-term care needs, like brain injuries and other disabilities from accidents or car crashes.
The state had set an Oct. 1 date for workers at state-licensed health care facilities to get vaccinated. Workers who were not vaccinated wouldn’t be allowed in the building, the state said when first rolling out the regulation. But before that went into effect, the state said unvaccinated health care workers could continue to work if their absence would present a risk to the quality of patient care.
Edgar said last week that when including contractors, there are 69 unvaccinated staffers out of a workforce of 856.
Statewide, facilities that didn’t meet Oct. 1 deadline had to file “corrective action plans.” The Department of Health’s regulation said facilities that didn’t meet the deadline would have 30 days to persuade unvaccinated workers to get their shots or replace them with vaccinated ones.
Thirty days is almost up. What happens next?
“This week we are sending a communication to facilities that submitted Corrective Action Plans on October 1st because they were not in compliance at that time,” Department of Health spokesman Joseph Wendelken said in an email Monday. “In that communication facilities will be asked to attest that they will be in compliance by the end of the month.”