In ongoing surveillance testing at the community Oct. 26, Newton Presbyterian Manor discovered four essential health care workers who tested positive for the coronavirus.

"We continue to work to protect the residents and employees of Newton Presbyterian Manor from COVID-19," said Jeanne Gerstenkorn, Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America’s vice president for health and wellness and infection preventionist.

Two of the employees last worked on Tuesday, Oct. 27. Both employees passed the pre-shift screening and wore personal protective equipment as required, but began to experience signs or symptoms of the virus after their shifts. The other two employees last worked Thursday. Both employees passed pre-shift screening and wore PPE as required. Both employees were immediately notified of their positive results and sent home. All four employees have been instructed to quarantine until cleared to return to work.

These positive cases place in-person visitation, group activities and communal dining on pause at the campus. Families are encouraged to schedule window and virtual visits with their loved ones during this time.

The Harvey County Health Department has been notified and recommended testing all health care residents on Friday, Oct. 30. Four other employees were identified as close contacts and were given rapid point-of-care tests Thursday morning, which were negative.

In August, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released guidelines requiring campuses with skilled nursing to regularly test all staff, including agency workers and therapists, for the coronavirus based on their county’s COVID-19 testing positivity rate. In the past two weeks, Harvey County’s positivity rate has increased dramatically. As a result, Newton Presbyterian Manor is testing employees twice a week.

The employees who tested positive will remain in isolation until cleared to return to work by the county health department. Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kansas Department of Health and Environment guidelines, staff may return to work once they have been symptom-free for 72 hours without the aid of a fever reducer and demonstrate improvement in respiratory symptoms, and at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared. Upon their return to work, Presbyterian Manor will follow CDC recommendations related to work practices and restrictions.

All employees are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines and best practices as these are continually updated. Presbyterian Manor said it regularly reinforces with all staff that an employee should not report to work if he or she is experiencing symptoms of a respiratory illness or not feeling well.