19 hospital staff members tested positive for virus; no deficiencies in infection prevention found

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FARMINGTON – Medical leaders at Franklin Memorial Hospital are working closely with the staff of the Maine Centers for Disease control to limit the spread of COVID-19 after 19 members of the hospital’s care team tested positive for the virus. Eleven staff have recovered.

Those with active cases are in self-quarantine. It is believed that the cases are an indication that the coronavirus has rooted itself in Franklin County, which up until now has had fewer cases than other, harder-hit parts of Maine. The CDC has classified the cases as an outbreak, however they are unlikely to be isolated or confined to the hospital as the coronavirus is increasingly showing up in Maine’s rural areas.

Working with the CDC, the hospital is testing staff who have been potentially exposed to the virus. The positive cases are not thought to pose a significant risk to patients as hospital staff has been consistent in the use of protective equipment shown to minimize transmission.

On Tuesday FMH underwent an unannounced Department of Health and Human Services focused infection control survey by a team of surveyors who toured inpatient and outpatient units and Franklin Health practices.

“The survey was focused on our Covid-19 policies and procedures, staff education and overall infection prevention techniques which was accomplished through document review, and observation and staff interviews throughout the day,” said Barbara Sergio, BSN, MSHA, CPHQ, FMH senior director of quality and patient safety. “I am pleased to say that Franklin had zero deficiencies during this survey, which for an unannounced survey is a great accomplishment, especially in these trying times.”

Franklin Memorial and other organizations in the MaineHealth system have extensive protocols in place to keep patients safe, including universal masking in all facilities, frequent cleaning and designated areas for treating those who may be infected with COVID-19.

“We are all going to have to step up our vigilance if we want to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” said Trampas Hutches, president of Franklin Memorial Hospital. “As the holidays approach, I also urge caution about holding gatherings of friends and extended family outside your household circle. It is more important than ever that everyone avoids gatherings, stays six feet apart from others, wears a face covering in public settings, and washes hands frequently.”

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