Heart & Soul Hospice of Farmington learned this morning that a direct-patient care employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is quarantined at home and has been home since October 14 after learning that a family member had contracted the virus. 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 positive test resulted from ongoing surveillance testing at our community, which last took place on Monday, October 19.

We have contacted the Iron County Health Department to report the positive case. Contact tracing did not reveal any additional exposure to patients or staff. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines exposure as being within 6 feet of another person while he or she is symptomatic for 15 minutes or longer. We will follow any guidance we receive from the health department.

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.