SAN RAFAEL (KPIX) – New guidance allowing statewide healthcare workers who have tested positive for coronavirus to return to work under certain conditions is receiving opposition from unions, as public health officials try to weigh what’s best for patients and staff in the Omicron surge.
Bay Area hospital officials don’t have to ask infected asymptomatic healthcare workers to return immediately, but new state guidelines will allow that to happen if needed.
Even with one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, health officials say about 5% of the population in Marin County is infected with COVID. That means healthcare facilities including hospitals could face shortages of workers, if they haven’t already.
“We are seeing staff shortages in many essential response areas as our ambulance crews, long-term care facilities, hospitals and clinics are all under stress,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County public health officer.
Dr. Karen Shavelson is the medical director at Marin Health Medical Center, where they are not yet on a new order, but are ready to make the call.
“I understand why the public is worried about that, but so are we. But we don’t have a choice in some areas,” said Dr. Shavelson.
The new guidelines will allow medical facilities to immediately return infected asymptomatic workers without the need for isolation and re-testing.
“If you look at the emergency services, there isn’t much of a choice if a large portion of your workers contract COVID. Just like we’re seeing in the public right now, it’s the same thing in the health care system,” Dr. Shavelson said.
The California Nurses Association is now asking the state to reverse its decision.
“Governor Newsom and our state’s public health leaders are putting the needs of healthcare corporations ahead of patient and worker safety,” a CNA spokesperson said.
“The rationale for state policy is to try to keep essential workers on the front lines to deliver minimal standards of health care,” said Dr Willis.
Asymptomatic staff are required to wear N-95 masks and will be assigned to already infected patients to minimize the chance of spread.
“We are doing everything we can to use COVID-positive health care workers as a last resort and only in areas where it will be staff and services,” said Dr Shavelson. urgent.
Willis and other health officials acknowledge this is a balancing act to address staffing shortages and ensure acute care facilities can function during this latest wave of infections.
https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2022/01/17/covid-unions-push-back-on-state-guidelines-allowing-health-care-workers-with-coronavirus-to-return-to-work/ Unions Oppose State Guidelines for Returning Health Care Workers with Coronavirus – CBS San Francisco