Oregon State Hospital Reports First Positive COVID Test For Patient

Oregon State Hospital by Jessica Floum.jpg

The Oregon State Hospital has had its first patient test positive for coronavirus, the Salem facility announced Thursday afternoon.

State hospital spokeswoman Rebeka Gipson-King said the patient has been quarantined, as have the 19 other patients who live in the same unit.

She said she couldn’t give an update about the patient’s current condition, but said the patient began showing symptoms Oct. 11 and was immediately tested and quarantined.

While this is the first reported positive case for a patient, the state hospital has reported that 26 staff members have tested positive for the virus since the beginning of April.

Gipson-King said the three most recent staff to test positive all worked on the same unit where the patient lives, known as “Lighthouse 2.” All tested positive within the last four days.

All patients who live on the same unit as the COVID-positive patient, as well as all staff who work on that unit, are being tested, Gipson-King said.

Since April, the state hospital has had some COVID policies in place, such as staggering admissions, quarantining all new patients for 14 days, and limiting staff members who work on the new admissions or quarantine units to those areas of the hospital, to limit potential spread of the virus.

But Gipson-King said staff who worked on the Lighthouse 2 unit, approximately 43 people, had been able to work in other areas of the hospital, because it was neither an admissions monitoring nor a quarantine unit.

She said they won’t immediately be testing all other staff and patients because of that possible exposure, but are currently contact tracing.

“We will be talking to all the staff on the unit and figuring out what the risk is,” Gipson-King said. “We are hoping to have that done by the end of the day.”

While patients are tested before they are admitted to the hospital, and at the end of their 14-day quarantine period, Gipson-King said the hospital had previously not been providing testing for employees. All staff members who have tested positive so far have been tested by their own healthcare providers.

Gipson-King said following the positive test of a patient, the hospital will be working with the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Department to test staff. She said she doesn’t know if that will become a regular practice available to all employees.

The hospital will update its number of patient cases daily on its website, Gipson-King said.

—Jayati Ramakrishnan; 503-221-4320; [email protected]; @JRamakrishnanOR

This story was first published by The Oregonian/OregonLive and is posted here through an agreement among a dozen media outlets to share COVID-related stories.

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