OHA, Mercy Medical Center disagree over report of COVID-19 outbreak

According to OHA’s Weekly COVID-19 Report, there are 10 cases linked to Mercy Medical.

Posted: Aug 20, 2020 6:15 PM

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- On Thursday, the Oregon Health Authority officially reported Mercy Medical Center as a workplace outbreak, but the hospital says otherwise.

According to OHA’s Weekly COVID-19 Report, there are 10 cases linked to Mercy Medical.

Kathleen Nickel, a spokeswoman for the hospital, told KEZI 9 News that eight employees considered presumptive positive have all tested negative several times.

She said the two other cases are positive, but only one of them is an employee. She said the other positive case is someone who doesn’t work at the hospital. They work in the community, and a hospital employee was exposed to them.

Two weeks ago, Nickel told KEZI 9 News that there was no exposure to any patients inside the hospital. She said the one positive employee and all of the presumptive employees were put into isolation once they were exposed.

Douglas County public health officer Bob Dannenhoffer said OHA has to include all cases whether they are positive, negative or still presumptive. He said it’s because a test may not be accurate the first time around.

“We know there are some people who test negative, test negative on one day, test negative the second day and test positive on the third day,” said Dannenhoffer.

Nickel said they’ve told OHA several times about the negative cases. However, she said they told the hospital that that’s not going to change how they report presumptive positives.

KEZI 9 News reached out to OHA. They said they would not comment further on Mercy’s situation, but they said all the cases involved were linked back to Mercy Medical Center. According to OHA’s guidelines, a workplace outbreak happens when five or more cases are associated with a workplace.

Regardless, Dannenhoffer said people should not be afraid to go to Mercy Medical Center.

“Cases are going to happen,” said Dannenhoffer. “Let’s not get freaked out, Mercy is still a safe place to get care.”

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