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Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center confirms first employee COVID-19 case

Penn State Health announced today 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 test was confirmed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) last evening (March 20). The individual went home as soon as symptoms were recognized, and has been at home since that time.

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 (CDC) and the DOH.

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.

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.

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.

As one of four designated Ebola Treatment Centers in Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is uniquely prepared to care for patients with any disease of national concern. 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 remains open to treat all patients and continues to provide safe, high-quality care. The hospital has suspended elective surgeries, put in place a restricted visitation policy and has an incident command structure up and running 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, 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) or their primary care physician by phone to determine the appropriate next steps. Persons with mild symptoms should stay at home in self-quarantine. People may also minimize their risk of exposure and exposing others by seeing a board-certified doctor for COVID screening through the Penn State Health OnDemand app. A standard rate of $59 applies for other acute care appointments through OnDemand.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever and lower respiratory tract symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath. All people are encouraged to practice proven prevention methods, including frequent hand washing for 20 seconds, avoid touching the face, staying home when sick, and covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow. Additional information on how to protect yourself and what to do if you think you are sick is available through Penn State Health, the CDC, and DOH.

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