The rehab building at Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan has been closed for the next two weeks after eight staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

Sherry Rogers, chief nursing officer at the hospital, confirmed in an email Monday evening that all employees and patients who may have had contact with the virus have been notified and advised to self-quarantine and to monitor for symptoms.

“In an abundance of caution, the rehab building has been closed for 14 days while staff are quarantined and the building is being cleaned,” Rogers said.

The unit consists of 42 staff members. The building is separate from the rest of the hospital, located across the street from the main campus.

The hospital, located at 46 Fairview Ave., has an outdoor triage and testing area just outside of the Emergency Room entrance. The medical office building entrance is set up for employees and any medical office patients to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms, use hand sanitizer and be masked prior to entering the building.

There are no testing sites separate from the main campus.

The hospital has been following Centers for Disease Control & Prevention guidelines to reduce the risk of staff exposure. Additionally, the hospital has reduced the number of staff present through remote work, reserve shifts and temporary furloughs, according to Lisa Landry, human resources director.

As of Tuesday, a hospital spokesperson confirmed that around 79 employees have been furloughed until May 2. At that point, employment will be reassessed.

In the meantime, administrative areas, such as the business office, technology, coding, finance and human resources along with clerical staff are working remotely. Providers and care managers are seeing patients via telehealth as much as possible.

Additionally, reserve shifts are being offered temporarily to clinical departments that are experiencing low numbers of patients.

“A rotation of staff are offered to stay home during a regularly scheduled shift if census is low,” Landry said.

This means that employees are “on reserve” to come in if the hospital volume increases and they are needed. The practice also decreases the staff in the hospital, saving personal protective equipment and reducing the risk of exposure to all.

“Our patients and staff understand the urgency of early identification of exposure and review of contacts to put measures in place to control additional spread of the COVID-19 virus,” CEO Dick Willett said. “As of (Monday), we have not had any inpatient positives. Our number one goal remains to protect our patients and our staff in all settings. The plan will continually be reviewed and adjusted as necessary.”

Redington-Fairview General Hospital is an independent, critical access hospital and is not associated with other health systems.

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