Driscoll continues to take COVID-19 precautions

UPDATE: Test results have come back NEGATIVE on the Driscoll employee who self-reported cold symptoms consistent with COVID-19. The employee does not have COVID-19.

Driscoll Children’s Hospital is continuing to follow CDC and Health Department recommended precautions after learning one of its employees has cold symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

“Driscoll Children’s Hospital continues to provide care in our hospital and clinics, taking special precautions to screen patients who might have symptoms similar to COVID-19 with appropriate isolation and treatment. We also have asked all employees to self-monitor for any illness and remove themselves from work,” said Karen Long, Vice President of Clinical Operations at Driscoll Children’s Hospital.

“There is no need for parents to cancel or reschedule Driscoll appointments. Patient safety always has been — and will be — the No. 1 priority at Driscoll Children’s Hospital. We will continue to do what we do every day to ensure a safe environment for the children in our care. As a hospital, we have always maintained a clean, sterile environment and we are taking additional steps to ensure that. Such measures are even more important when dealing with a pandemic like COVID-19,” said Long.

The Driscoll Children’s Hospital COVID-19 Task Force has been taking precautions for weeks, working closely with the Nueces County Health Department and following CDC guidelines.

The hospital has implemented a new process called Code Dove, which will require everyone to stop what they are doing and perform hand hygiene when the announcement is made over the PA system. Staff will encourage patients and visitors to join them as they wash their hands.

 In addition, for several weeks, the hospital has been screening patients to see if they were at risk for the COVID-19 virus. Symptoms to look for include a fever over 100.5 degrees, a cough and shortness of breath.

“The employee who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 had a very defined role at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, so she didn’t interact with the larger population here. Most of her work was done by telephone,” said Nancy Fallwell, RN, MSN/MHA, Director of Infection Prevention at Driscoll Children’s Hospital.

The employee has been tested for COVID-19; however, test results are not back.

The employee had contact with an individual who had recently traveled in the U.S. and subsequently became a Person Under Investigation (PUI) for COVID-19. Learning this information, the employee removed herself from Driscoll and immediately notified Driscoll Administration and the Health Department.

 “We have tracked everywhere she went in the hospital and her interactions,” said Fallwell. “When she was working at Driscoll, she had no symptoms. She has not been hospitalized.”

The employee worked one day before developing cold symptoms. A day before the employee developed symptoms she had contact with three patients. The families of the three patients have been notified. The Health Department has given direction that the three patients are low risk and should be monitored for symptoms only. No testing has been requested by the Health Department for the three patients. The Health Department, and not Driscoll Children’s Hospital, is responsible for all testing of COVID-19.

Driscoll is following the recommended precautionary guidelines from the Texas Department of Health Services:

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  2. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  4. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  5. Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  6. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Driscoll Health System had previously sent out a letter to parents explaining how Driscoll was daily monitoring the recommendations provided by the CDC and emphasizing that “stopping transmission (spread) of the virus through everyday practices is the best way to keep people healthy.”