Rhode Island’s state-run long-term hospital has 28 COVID-positive patients as of Thursday morning amid an uptick in infections.
The state department that runs Eleanor Slater Hospital on Thursday afternoon acknowledged the infections. They are across multiple campuses of the hospital, which has units in Burrillville and Cranston. The long-term acute care hospital’s roughly 200 patients have a range of conditions and illnesses, including for long-term injuries and psychiatric conditions.
It was the last hospital in the state to stop using unvaccinated workers, and one of the first two health care facilities in the state to start using COVID-positive workers. The Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals did not address whether there was any connection between the use of COVID-positive workers and the uptick in infections; COVID has been spreading rapidly in Rhode Island in the past few weeks, smashing new infection records amid the more transmissible but milder Omicron variant.
“As Eleanor Slater Hospital takes steps to control COVID infections, staff and administrators are working very hard under incredibly challenging conditions to provide the best care for ESH patients,” BHDDH spokesman Randal Edgar said in an email. “Eleanor Slater, like other hospitals, is facing added staffing challenges because of COVID.”
Edgar said there were no COVID-positive workers at the hospital as of Thursday. At last check, it used two COVID-positive workers Saturday and three Monday.
The use of COVID-positive workers, even asymptomatic ones, represents an extraordinary step nearly two years into a pandemic that long-term care facilities like Eleanor Slater spent trying to keep the virus out. It is allowed under “crisis” levels of staffing outlined by the federal government and adopted by the Rhode Island Department of Health.
Eleanor Slater Hospital is licensed as an acute-care facility, some of whose patients stay there for years if not decades. It has been under scrutiny for a year over its management.