Fairbanks Memorial Hospital employees test positive for COVID-19

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) UPDATE: A second healthcare worker has tested positive for COVID-19. The patient was known to have close contact with the first FMH employee who tested positive for the virus.

"We have limited entrances to the hospital, we've also implemented a PPE (personal protective equipment) conservation program," said Dr. Angelique Ramirez, a medical practitioner with FMH. "And as was mentioned earlier, we implemented proactively the temperature self-monitoring program."

The patient is self-isolating, and anyone who may have come into contact with them is being contacted.

FMH also admitted its first patient for the disease. The individual was also known to have been associated with someone who had contracted the virus, and was tested.

They were admitted for additional treatment, and have since been released. They are currently self-isolating.

"This particular patient does fall in the age under 40 category," said Dr. Angelique Ramirez, Quality Medical Director for Foundation Health Partners, which operates FMH. She said that this is relevant as more and more evidence has revealed that it is not only the elderly who are affected by the disease.

"My team is tired, and they're stressed but they saw the bounty of their work pay off when we had our first patient," said Shelley Ebenal, CEO of FHP.

ORIGINAL STORY: Fairbanks Memorial Hospital has experienced its first case of a healthcare worker testing positive for COVID-19.

The employee had been part of a self-monitoring program that FMH had imposed on its employees. According to Shelly Ebenal, CEO of Foundation Health Partners, the organization which operates the hospital, employee self-monitoring is not required by the CDC, but is a proactive measure taken by the hospital.

"Initial reports indicate that the contact this employee had with others is deemed low-risk," said Ebenal. The employee had struck a fever and began self-quarantining. Worsening symptoms the next day resulted in a test for the virus, which returned positive.

Healthcare workers becoming ill is a concern for the Fairbanks community, given the interior's remote location. "We have limited entrances to the hospital, we've also implemented a PPE (personal protective equipment) conservation program," said Dr. Angelique Ramirez, a medical practitioner with FMH. "And as was mentioned earlier, we implemented proactively the temperature self-monitoring program."

Ramirez stressed that the term "healthcare worker" includes not only medical personnel, but also environmental service and food service workers as well, among others.

Copyright 2020 KTVF. All rights reserved.