A Heart & Soul Hospice of Wichita direct-patient care employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is quarantined at home. Heart & Soul Hospice is a program of PMMA (Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America).

The employee last worked September 14 and passed both self-screening and entry screening at the senior living community where the employee saw three patients. The employee completed surveillance testing Monday as part of the new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requirements for anyone who works in a skilled nursing facility. On Tuesday, the employee called in to work to report experiencing signs and symptoms of COVID-19. The employee was not allowed to work and was told to quarantine. Hospice leadership was notified of the positive test result Tuesday evening.

“Our top priority is the safety of our patients and employees,” said Jeanne Gerstenkorn, PMMA’s infection preventionist and vice president for health and wellness.

The hospice notified the Sedgwick County Health Department and performed contact tracing to determine who the employee had contact with during the last shift worked. Patients and their family members also have been notified of the positive test. The hospice will follow any guidance from the Sedgwick County Health Department and the CDC.

Heart & Soul Hospice employees have been self-screening at the beginning of their shifts before the employees have had any direct contact with patients. In addition, employees also go through screening at each senior living community or hospital where they provide hospice care.

All employees are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines and best practices as these are continually updated. Because hospice employees visit patients where they live, they wear masks and gloves with each patient. The hospice regularly reinforces with all employees that an employee should not report to work if he or she is experiencing symptoms of a respiratory illness or not feeling well.

The employee will remain in isolation until cleared to work by the Sedgwick County Health Department. We will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) guidelines for when COVID-positive employees may return to work. Under the current guidelines, symptomatic employees may return to work when at least 72 hours have passed since resolution of the employee’s fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and the employee’s symptoms have improved and at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared. Asymptomatic positive employees will quarantine for 14 days. Upon the employee’s return to work, we will follow CDC recommendations related to work practices and restrictions.

For more information about Heart & Soul Hospice of Wichita’s response, go to PMMA’s (Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America’s) website, presbyterianmanors.org/media-room.