A Waterville hospital has quarantined 10 members of its healthcare staff after they were exposed, directly or indirectly, to a patient who later tested positive for COVID-19.

Inland Hospital, part of the 10-hospital Northern Light Health network, disclosed the quarantines in a short statement posted on the network’s website late Friday afternoon, but declined to share further details, including how so many hospital workers came to be potentially exposed.

Inland said it learned Thursday that one of its patients had tested positive for the disease and had since notified the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are working with them on contact tracing, which will help identify any other staff who may have been exposed and need to quarantine,” the statement said.

“We are contacting all staff who had or may have had exposure to the patient or the employees, and directing them to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms,” the statement continued, suggesting more staff members may need to be quarantined. The statement said hospital admissions and other services were not affected by the situation.

The statement also suggested Northern Light Inland did not yet know how the staff were exposed, though hospital spokesperson Sara Barry declined to provide any further information or answer questions.

“We are closely assessing how the exposures occurred so we can prevent future exposures,” Dr. Gavin Ducker, Inland’s senior physician executive and co-president of Northern Light Health Medical Group, said in the statement. “We will continue to communicate about the situation with our staff and the community.”

The statement said that the hospital would “not be discussing details” out of concern for the privacy of patients and staff.

Inland has had relatively little experience with COVID-19, having not treated an inpatient with the disease since April 3. As of Thursday, the hospital had reported no confirmed COVID-19 inpatients.

Northern Light Health’s hospitals have together cared for confirmed COVID patients totaling 700 bed nights, but this is the first time the network has posted a news release about having to quarantine staff because they had been exposed to the disease.

Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long could not be reached to discuss the situation late afternoon Friday.

 


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