Summa Health employees may continue to work with mild symptoms of COVID

AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – As with area hospitals and hospital systems, Akron-based Summa Health Systems is under stress over an overwhelming number of COVID-19 admissions.

“More and more floors need to be converted to COVID-specific floors. Emergency rooms are overwhelmed with these patients arriving at the hospital, ”said Dr Shanu Agarwal, President of Summa’s Infection Control.

“Right now we are obviously inundated with some of the largest numbers of COVID patients who are admitted. We are, to date, at 175 COVID admissions currently, of which about 85% have not been vaccinated, ”she added.

To meet their needs, the hospital system has reassigned some of their caregivers from their regular assignments to help them where they are needed most.

“We’re in a tough spot here because we have all of these patients who need to be seen, but our frontline workers, our healthcare workers, some of them are also missing. So it’s a heavy burden and at the end of the day we just want to take care of our patients safely, ”Agarwal said.

Following new guidelines announced by the CDC last week, the hospital system has also changed its employee policies, allowing employees who test positive to continue working if they do not have a fever or if their symptoms are mild.

New CDC guidelines suggest the virus is most contagious several days before an infected person shows symptoms and only in the first few days of infection.

“What they find with omicron, and that’s about 93% of what’s going around right now, what they find is you get sicker faster and so you end up being sick for a day or two and you might be contagious maybe a day after that and the rest is just resolving the symptoms, ”said Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda.

“We followed the guidance provided by the CDC and the CDC provided strategies to help alleviate health workforce shortages,” Agarwal said. “As we see more healthcare workers absent and with an increasing number of COVID patients and the hospital is simply overwhelmed, we needed to have a process to bring back healthcare workers earlier than their period of isolation , which was ten days. “

Agarwal says everyone, including patients, will be fitted with a hospital-grade mask and that other precautions will be taken to mitigate the spread of everything, including COVID.

“In my opinion, people go out in public in grocery stores and places and you are controlled by someone who doesn’t wear a mask and you don’t wear a mask, that’s a much higher risk when you don’t. don’t. know what the other person has and there is no source control, ”said Agarwal

“This is where you know that person is wearing a mask whether they have COVID or not, and in the future we know that two people are wearing masks, the transmission is very low so yes it could be very early in their illness, but we are controlling that with a mask and we are going to have strict guidelines for returning workers, ”she added.

Last year, the hospital system imposed vaccines on all of its employees, allowing specific exemptions.

A Summa spokesperson told FOX 8 that 100% of their employees have fulfilled the mandate or granted exemptions.

The hospital also has specific visitation policies for people entering the hospital which have been in place since last summer.

Skoda says it would not hesitate to allow an asymptomatic, COVID-positive healthcare worker to provide care to someone under current guidelines.

“The reason the CDC made the switch is because they kept people in their homes for too long. You know, they weren’t communicable anymore, they weren’t sick anymore, ”Skoda said.

The hospital system also continues to urge all who can, but have not yet been vaccinated, to do so to try to reduce the number of people sick enough to require hospitalization.


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