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Hershey Medical Center confirms first employee with coronavirus; Penn State Health remains open

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Penn State Health announced Saturday that an employee at one of its outpatient practices on the campus of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center has tested positive for COVID-19.

The coronavirus test was confirmed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health on the evening of March 20. The individual went home as soon as symptoms were recognized, and has been at home since that time, according to Penn State Health.

Evidence suggests the employee was exposed through a family member and not in the workplace. The employee is following treatment according to protocols and procedures regarding COVID-19. Penn State Health is in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the DOH, it said in a press release.

Penn State Health notified a small number of patients who may have interacted with the staff member, recommending they self-quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms.

“We will continue to evaluate whether these patients should be screened or tested for COVID-19 and whether further action is required,” Penn State Health said in a press release.

The employee’s coworkers also have been notified of their possible exposure and all members of the clinic are wearing masks while around other people on campus, checking temperatures twice per day and monitoring for symptoms, the release said.

“Due to federal privacy laws, and out of respect for the privacy of our employee and the family, Hershey Medical Center is not sharing any additional information on the medical status of the employee,” according to the release.

Hershey Medical Center is one of four designated Ebola Treatment Centers in Pennsylvania, which makes it “uniquely prepared to care for patients with any disease of national concern,” the statement said. “The organization has worked around the clock to adapt policies and operations and prepare its teams. That work is ongoing with steps and actions taken daily in response to new developments.”

Hershey Medical Center is open to treat all patients but has suspended elective surgeries, put in place a restricted visitation policy and has an incident command structure “with operational leaders guiding the organization’s preparedness and response efforts.”

Anyone experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 or may have been in contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19 should contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 877-PA-HEALTH (877-724-3258) or their primary care physician by phone to determine the appropriate next steps.

People with mild symptoms should stay at home in self-quarantine.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever and lower respiratory tract symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath.