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COVID-19 case at Springfield’s VA Clinic

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 9:05 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Opened to great fanfare in January of 2019, the Gene Taylor VA Clinic in Springfield replaced a long-time facility in Mt. Vernon and was intended to serve over 14,000 patients in the southwest Missouri area.

But less than 18 months later that new clinic is facing what's becoming a common challenge...how to deal with the rest of your employees after one of them tests positive for COVID-19.

On Wednesday morning a letter went to clinic employees from the VA home office in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Workers were told that one of the employees at the Springfield clinic has tested positive for COVID-19 and that all other employees would be tested starting on Wednesday.

The letter also said potentially-exposed employees would be allowed to keep working under the CDC-approved Passive Monitoring Program, which can be evoked for any moderate risk exposure to keep a facility from having staffing shortages during a national emergency. The CDC allows that passive monitoring for employees showing no symptoms instead of placing them in a 14-day quarantine.

During that time employees must wear a mask, take their temperature twice a day (plus log their findings) and immediately stop working if they have any symptoms.

But VA clinic patients are often elderly with health problems, both high-risk categories for the virus.

The Greene County Health Department told us it couldn't confirm or deny the positive employee at the VA clinic. The reason? The Health Department only notifies the public if it can't reach everyone who was potentially exposed.

The clinic's home office in Fayetteville would also not confirm the case, citing privacy concerns.

The Missouri State Department of Health did confirm that the Passive Monitoring System is common for essential workers who have not tested positive themselves and are not symptomatic as long as they wear proper protective equipment.

So while the practice is perfectly legal it may still leave people wondering why there’s not more transparency, especially in the health care industry, when it comes to letting the public know when employees at a particular place are dealing with virus exposure.

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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