COVID-19 outbreak among staff, patients at Puyallup hospital. Union files complaint

Published by TACOMA NEWS TRIBUNE on 12/18/20 (Source)

Washington State Nurses Association disputes the latest community spread stance coming from MultiCare.

Christine Watts, senior labor consultant with the Washington State Nurses Association, said MultiCare’s not linking the cases to each other or to the workplace is becoming common among health systems with infected workers.

“We see a trend that facilities are oftentimes doing the contact tracing, and if the nurse is exposed to a patient ... many of them are referring to CDC requirements, that is 15 minutes or more of exposure to a COVID-positive patient without proper PPE,” Watts said.

In those cases, she said, it could then be tied to the workplace.

But, “if a nurse is wearing the proper PPE, which the hospital in many cases determines that the nurse is wearing the proper PPE, then they are calling it community acquired because essentially, they should have been protected if they were using the proper PPE,” Watts said.

The problem, she noted, is that nurses are coming into contact with COVID at the hospital in a variety of ways, with multiple avenues of exposure, “and not at all times wearing the highest level of PPE.”

She offered one example: “If a patient is a suspected COVID patient under testing, the nurse may not have the highest level of PPE required, compared to a COVID positive patient. And then they test COVID positive.”