RAPID CITY, S.D. -- A patient who tested positive for coronavirus at Rapid City's Monument Health was also a caregiver there who worked in the cancer care institute.
People at the highest risk for contracting severe and fatal symptoms for COVID-19 include immunocompromised individuals, which includes those undergoing cancer treatments.
Paulette Davidson, CEO and President of Monument Health, estimated Wednesday at a press conference that the patient, who has only been identified as a woman, came into contact with 100 patients, 10 other caregivers and two physicians. Most patients were in an ambulatory area, she said.
She also said the patient's exposure was related to travel somewhere within the U.S.
Davidson said Monument Health first learned of the positive test result Tuesday and immediately began working through its protocols to identify who came into contact with the caregiver.
The caregiver had to provide a list of everyone she came into contact with, which was sent to the state Department of Health (DOH). The DOH is investigating the situation and has contacted each individual that the patient was in contact with to notify them of their exposure.
The 112 people who were exposed to the caregiver are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days at home as they monitor their symptoms and practice social distancing from other people. Internal teams at Monument Health will continue communication with those patients and are monitoring their symptoms.
"What makes this situation unique is that those who may have been exposed are also our patients," Davidson said. "This group of caregivers and physicians has been notified and sent home to quarantine based on CDC guidelines."
Davidson said that Monument Health activated additional cleaning procedures in the positive caregiver's work area.
Dr. Brad Archer, chief medical officer for Monument Health, said physicians and care teams are working on strategies to keep the 112 exposed individuals safe at home while maintaining their healthcare.
"The same group of clinicians is working to manage supplies, testing equipment and personal protective equipment in the middle of national shortages," Archer said.
Davidson said Monument Health is doing "OK" with staffing.
"We've limited our elective surgical procedures, so we're able to use many of our staff that were in those roles and have them step into other roles," Davidson said. "We actually have a staffing pool so we can use some of our talented people in new roles if needed."
Following suit with Sanford Health and Avera on the eastern side of South Dakota, Monument Health is working to get its own testing equipment and capability in the Black Hills.
Davidson said they are currently testing patients with high-risk symptoms at the state health lab in Pierre and sending tests to the Mayo Clinic laboratories for patients with lower-risk symptoms.
"That's working well for us. I anticipate mid-April to the end of April being able to process our own tests in our own laboratory," Davidson said.
Dr. Archer said that if Monument Health can set up its own lab by then, testing results would be available to patients in a matter of minutes.
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