Heart & Soul Hospice of Farmington learned September 8 that a 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 safety of our patients and employees is our top priority,” said Jeanne Gerstenkorn, PMMA’s infection preventionist and vice president for health and wellness.

The employee last worked September 3 and passed self-screening, which includes a temperature check and answering screening questions about their health and COVID-19 exposure risks, and reviewing a set of possible COVID-19 symptoms. Employees also are screened upon entry to any senior living community before they see patients. The employee wore personal protective equipment (PPE) while seeing patients.  The employee was tested for COVID-19 and received a positive result September 8.

The hospice acted swiftly to notify the St. Francois County Health Department and perform contact tracing to determine who the employee had contact with during their last shifts worked. Patients and their family members also have been notified of the positive test. The hospice will follow any additional guidance from the St. Francois County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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 St. Francois County Health Department. We will follow CDC guidelines for when COVID-positive employees may return to work. Under the current guidelines, symptomatic employees may return to work when at least 24 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 before returning to work. Upon the employee’s return to work, we will follow CDC recommendations related to work practices and restrictions.

Heart & Soul Hospice employees are included in the recent Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requirement for surveillance testing of employees who work regularly in skilled nursing facilities. Heart & Soul Hospice employees will be tested based on the positivity rate for COVID-19 in St. Francois County and any location where they are serving patients.

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