Following numerous rallies and demonstrations among California healthcare workers for more workplace protections against a swiftly surging coronavirus, state health officials have released guidelines recommending hospitals regularly screen employees and newly admitted patients for COVID-19.
In a Nov. 25 all-facilities letter issued by California Public Health Department, Deputy Director Heidi Steinecker strongly recommended general acute care hospitals implement a weekly screening testing program for all healthcare workers by Dec. 14.
Employees determined to be at high risk of contracting the virus should be tested starting next week, the letter states.
“Routine SARS-CoV-2 screening testing of hospital healthcare personnel may aid in early detection and work exclusion of infected healthcare providers, reduce transmission of risk to other healthcare providers and patients and prevent hospital outbreaks,” Steinecker wrote.
The guidance advises new patients and employees who may be exhibiting symptoms of the virus to receive immediate COVID-19 testing. Hospitals must by Monday submit testing plans identifying the number of at-risk and total employees and explaining how they will test for, report and trace positive cases.
Those directives align with proposals put before the state by leaders of the National Union for Healthcare Workers (NUHW), who have organized demonstrations highlighting the need for coronavirus protections, including several at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital & Medical Center.