Asymptomatic COVID-positive employees allowed to work at Maryview Nursing Care Center — but only with COVID patients


An employee holds up an antibody test cartridge of the ichroma COVID-19 Ab testing kit used in diagnosing the coronavirus for a photograph on a production line of the Boditech Med Inc. in Chuncheon, South Korea, Friday, April 17, 2020. Boditech Med recently started exporting its antibody-based virus test kits to various countries. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Bon Secours is allowing coronavirus-positive employees who are asymptomatic to continue working at the Maryview Nursing Care Center, but only with patients who have also tested positive for the virus, officials confirm.

Bon Secours first reported that some residents and associates at Maryview Nursing Care Center tested positive for COVID-19 on April 17.

Bon Secours has not confirmed how many residents and associates have tested positive, but in a statement the company said it has tested all Maryview Nursing Care Center residents for COVID-19. Bon Secours is also testing and monitoring staff who have worked at the care center since March 31. That testing is nearly complete.

10 On Your Side reached out to Bon Secours after several viewers expressed concerns that COVID-19-positive employees were still being allowed to work at Maryview Nursing Care Center.

In a written statement, Bon Secours confirmed that this is true — workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 are still being allowed to work at Maryview Nursing Care Center — but only if they are asymptomatic and only with patients who have also tested positive for the disease.

“As caregivers, we have been called to serve and are focused on our Mission of extending the healing ministry to all those in need, especially people who are poor, dying and underserved. In an effort to ensure continuity of care for our residents at Bon Secours Maryview Nursing Care Center, and in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) guidelines, we are allowing associates who tested positive with no symptoms and are feeling well to provide care in our COVID-19 cohort units only.”

“Associates who do not wish to work are not mandated to work, however, our associates have risen to the occasion, and we are grateful for their commitment to care for our community in this time of need, and always. Bon Secours Maryview Nursing Care Center remains a safe place to live, work receive care.”

– Bon Secours prepared statement

Those working at Maryview Nursing Care Center are also wearing “full droplet plus precautions for PPE, which includes gowns, masks, and gloves,” the Bon Secours statement said.

Workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are displaying symptoms are not working. Bon Secours is paying them while they recover from the virus at home, the statement said.

Bon Secours made the decision to allow workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic to continue working based on guidance from the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health.

The Bon Secours statement continues: “These associates, following CDC and VDH guidelines, have been designated to care for only our COVID-19 positive residents to minimize risk to our COVID-19 negative population within Maryview Nursing Care Center. In addition, we have separate entrances and exits as well as staff work areas to ensure that our two separate care teams do not co-mingle.”

According to CDC guidance, essential workers may continue working following “potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.”

The CDC also said that critical workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 and remain asymptomatic should do the following before and during their workshift:

  • Prescreen symptoms before work
  • Regularly monitor their symptoms and temperature
  • Wear a mask
  • Social distance during work
  • Disinfect and clean workspaces

Employees who become sick should be sent home immediately, according to CDC guidance.

VDH has issued similar guidance, allowing “asymptomatic healthcare personnel who have had an exposure a COVID-19 patient to continue to work after options to improve staffing have been exhausted and in consultation with their occupational health program.”

The health system added: “We follow safety protocols each and every time we care for our residents, and we are taking every precaution for mitigating the spread of COVID-19. We follow guidance provided by the CDC and the VDH for work and quarantine, surveillance, screening and monitoring to minimize exposure to other residents and associates. Bon Secours continues to monitor COVID-19 updates from the CDC and VDH, among other local, state and national agencies, and we have a COVID-19 Task Force that is working around-the-clock to enable an agile response to this pandemic.”

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