Sutter Santa Rosa orders coronavirus quarantine for at least 30 hospital workers, union says
Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital issued quarantine orders this week to at least 30 of its hospital workers who had contact with a patient with the coronavirus, the largest isolation order publicly reported so far at a single health care facility treating patients with the infectious disease in California, the union representing most front-line hospital staff said Thursday.
The union revealed the quarantine the same day Sonoma County public health officials announced a second confirmed case of COVID-19 from a local resident seeking care at an undisclosed Santa Rosa hospital. Both people traveled on a February round-trip cruise on the Grand Princess ship from San Francisco to Mexico and returned home on a shuttle from the port to Sonoma County, public health officials said.
Sutter officials would not say if the patient who exposed the hospital workers to the coronavirus was either of two cruise ship passengers who are local residents being treated in isolation at a Santa Rosa hospital, or a third passenger from another ship, the Diamond Princess, transferred in February to a local hospital from Travis Air Force Base in Solano County.
The union issued a statement urging hospitals to protect ?their workers.
“The workers aren’t being tested before being sent home,” said Sean Wherley, spokesman with SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West. “They’re sent home but they are potentially exposing their families. It’s not clear how this is limiting the spread.”
Sutter executives would not confirm Thursday that employees had been sent home and declined to answer a reporter’s questions, instead issuing a prepared statement through a spokeswoman.
“The safety of our patients and employees” is top priority, the spokeswoman said. The hospital continues to update our protocols regarding the coronavirus “in accordance with best practices established by federal, state and local authorities.”
The employees under isolation in the state come from a wide range of positions within the hospitals, “anyone from the housekeeper coming into the room without being advised, the phlebotomist drawing the blood, the admitting clerk who was a first point of contact,” Wherley said.
The union pressed hospitals to develop better communication lines between executives and staff, establish early assessment protocols and ensure facilities have sufficient protective equipment and enough staff on duty.
Statewide, the union estimated at least 50 caregivers had been sent home from jobs at hospitals after they treated or came into contact with patients infected with COVID-19. At least 10 health care workers were taken off the job Feb. 27 at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View and Los Gatos.
Another 10 workers were isolated Wednesday from Kaiser Permanente in Roseville, where a man who died from the disease had been under care for six days.
Two workers from Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles were quarantined Tuesday.
Wherley, whose union represents 365 workers at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, said he had no details about the circumstances of the quarantine in Santa Rosa.
“Hospital executives need to collaborate with employees to understand the circumstances: are there supplies in place? What’s the protocol?” Wherley said. “Workers need to be trained before a patient comes in.”
You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.