JOINT PRESS RELEASE FROM TCI HOSPITAL AND TCI GOVERNMENT
(Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Sunday, 21 June, 2020): The Turks and Caicos Islands Hospital received a public health notification on Saturday, June 20th, 2020 that an employee from the catering department at Cheshire Hall Medical Centre has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is the confirmed COVID-19 case referenced in the TCI Government recent statement that contracted the virus within the community.
Since becoming aware of the result, the Ministry of Health – Public Health team commenced contact tracing and all of the relevant information needed to assist was provided. Persons deemed close contacts of the employee have been quarantined and testing is ongoing. The source of the transmission is under investigation by Public Health. This is the first TCI Hospital employee who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The affected employee was not responsible for food production. However, the Refresh Cafeteria at Cheshire Hall Medical Centre was closed as a precautionary measure, whilst the necessary due diligence steps continue with catering staff. During the closure period, the hospital will utilize the opportunity to conduct the usual deep sanitization and cleaning above the normal robust environmental procedures and controls in conjunction with TCIG Environmental Health Department.
TCI Hospital in collaboration with the Ministry of Health has commenced front line worker COVID-19 screening in keeping with regional and international screening of front line workers. The screening commenced with those departments with the highest priority due to more frequent patient exposure.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 peak period, employees, patients and visitors have been subjected to a COVID-19 screening questionnaire and temperature screenings in order to access the health care facility. All patients have been required to present to the emergency department entrance, and staff have a dedicated entrance and are also screened.
The employee was asymptomatic while at work and therefore would have passed the screening process. On the day the employee became symptomatic, the employee presented to an offsite clinical facility and was required to undergo a COVID-19 test out an abundance of caution, which returned a positive result. All other employees within the small department deemed close contacts are presently asymptomatic and have been quarantined as a precaution. Our thoughts are with our valued staff and the newly diagnosed person for a complete recovery during the home isolation period.
There have been no changes to the current status of clinical operations at Cheshire Hall Medical Centre and the facility continues to enforce visitor restrictions, use of Personal Protective Equipment and other Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures along with reduced patient volumes for outpatient services to ensure compliance with social distancing measures and avoid patient clusters. These are all precautionary measures to reduce the risk of disease transmission and exposure to employees and patients. Further updates on any clinical service changes will be provided as the situation evolves.
The TCIG Environmental Health Department in collaboration with the Facilities Management Department has secured an external caterer to prepare patient meals given the closure of the Refresh Cafeteria. The external caterer has been briefed on the Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) protocols and patient dietary requirements. Internal arrangements will be made for food distribution to patient rooms as a patient safety measure.
Employees were notified of the internal positive case upon receipt of the information, and have been encouraged to continue to adhere to the established stringent internal IPC measures within and outside of the workplace. The COVID-19 pandemic is dynamic and the science continues to evolve. The general public is encouraged to maintain strict compliance with public health measures. These include wearing a mask or face covering during appointments to the hospital, contact the Ministry of Health Hotlines on 232 9444 or 333 0911 if you feel you may have symptoms of COVID-19 and ensure you call and reschedule your outpatient appointment.