Two CCHS Employees Test Positive for COVID-19

July 15, 2020

Atlantic, IA—Cass County Health System (CCHS) officials announced today that two employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are happy to say that our employees are only experiencing mild symptoms right now, and we expect and hope that both get well soon,” said CCHS Chief Executive Officer Brett Altman.

The employees contracted COVID-19 from sources outside of CCHS. The employees are isolating at home until they are considered recovered in accordance with the recovery criteria from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH).

While the staff members were always appropriately masked and protected while near patients, CCHS officials felt it was necessary to go above and beyond the current contact tracing procedures to notify any patients who were cared for by these staff members, as well as to inform the community of these new cases.

“We had five patients who received care from these employees. In our investigation, we found that there was no significant risk to the patients because of our use of PPE (personal protective equipment) – gloves, masks, and proper hand hygiene were properly observed. Yet, when we put ourselves in the shoes of the patients and their families, we felt like the right thing to do was to tell them,” said CCHS Chief Nursing Officer Amanda Bireline. CCHS officials have spoken with the patients who were impacted.

In alignment with IDPH guidance, CCHS is also keeping home other staff members who worked in close contact with the employees who have tested positive for COVID-19. This is a precautionary safety measure put into practice by CCHS to minimize the risk of spreading the illness.

“All along, we have been planning and preparing for the day when COVID-19 started to impact our community and staff. Without a doubt now, we’re at that point where there are real implications, and this likely won’t be the only impact on our workforce. We have an excellent team in place to strategize how we continue to safely care for patients, families, and the communities we are privileged to serve, but we still need everyone’s help to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Altman.

Bireline added, “Despite these positive cases, we feel that there is no additional risk to our patients or the patients that we served at the time. We acted quickly to isolate the cases, and we are monitoring and testing the exposed staff members.”

All patients and visitors at CCHS are screened at the entrance for fever and COVID-19 symptoms, and everyone in the facility is masked. CCHS also maintains a COVID-19 hotline for questions and concerns, as well as a Respiratory Care Clinic to serve patients with any respiratory symptoms that is in a designated space away from other patients.