UTICA, N.Y. -- New NYS Health Department guidelines sent to facilities just this week, set forth criteria under which health care providers infected with the coronavirus can return to work.
Included in the guidelines is a section which states that a facility can request that health care personnel with the virus return to work if fever - free for 72 hours without fever-reducing medication, and with other symptoms improving-meaning they can return to work while symptomatic.
"They may still have a little bit of congestion or a dry cough, or something like that, but many times the body's healing response is longer than the amount of time that the body actually has the virus in it," says Dr. Kent Hall, senior vice president chief physician executive for MVHS.
MVHS has come to that bridge, but hasn't had to cross it, yet.
"We've had one patient, one healthcare provider, that has tested positive, they're not back to work yet," said Hall. "We would follow what the CDC and department of health says so we would not have anyone come back to work before those metrics are met."
Hall also says personnel at MVHS are reusing N95 respirator masks, because if they didn't, they would run out.
"I will tell you that as of yesterday afternoon, we had, at our current burn rate, the current usage rate, we were actually going to run out of N95 respirators in two days," said Hall, adding that the masks are sterilized in accordance with CDC guidelines. "At the end of the day, we take the N95 and put it into a bag, put the person's name on the bag, sterilize that, and then it can be used again and that can be used a total of five times."
With the situation changing so rapidly, Hall says MVHS is working harder to educate staff about the changes.
All MVHS employees started wearing face masks on Thursday.