Maui Hospital Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19 After Obtaining Antibody Test
By Wendy Osher
Although the state as a whole saw no new COVID-19 cases for three consecutive days and Maui has only had five new cases in the past 30 days, Maui Health confirmed a COVID-19 positive result involving an employee over the weekend.
This individual was and continues to be asymptomatic (with no symptoms) and took the antibody test for their own knowledge at a community provider, according to a hospital spokesperson.
The employee has been quarantined at home since the hospital learned of the antibody detection on Friday, May 21.
“Once we learned that antibodies were detected we immediately sent the employee for a COVID swab test in our emergency department, and that subsequently came back positive on Saturday, May 23,” said Maui Health spokesperson Tracy Dallarda.
According to Dallarda, antibody testing is not offered at Maui Health, but the Maui hospital does provide PCR (nasal swab) testing for its employees.
Hospital representatives say it’s too soon in the process to determine a source of the infection but have stated that the case is not related to the Maui Memorial Medical Center cluster of 52 individuals that was deemed closed on May 19.
“The department of health is involved to conduct contact tracing at the community level to understand if this was community acquired; Maui Health is conducting contact tracing within the hospital,” said Dallarda.
Hospital representatives say patients and employees who may have had contact with this health care worker have been notified and will be tested, as necessary.
“The Department of Health considers this a low-risk exposure, as hospital employees and patients are wearing masks and the health care worker wore appropriate Personal Protective Equipment. At this time there are no concerns that this is part of a new cluster for many reasons: there is more understanding of this virus now and many processes and protocols have been put into place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including universal masking for patients, employees and providers, appropriate PPE usage and frequent training on use, daily COVID-19 screenings, wide-net COVID-19 testing for high risk units and systematic disinfecting of all areas within the hospital, to name a few,” according to a statement provided by Maui Health.
When asked if the individual had worked in the COVID-19 unit at the hospital, a spokesperson could not provide information due to employee confidentiality.
The hospital’s COVID-19 Unit was closed on May 14 and converted back to its medical surgical unit status, where those employees continued to work.