Patients at a Betty Ford rehab are in danger of catching coronavirus after a former patient tested positive for the potentially fatal disease, DailyMail.com has exclusively learned.
Staff at the Hazelden Betty Ford treatment center in St .Paul, Minnesota, told its remaining patients to ‘assume’ they also have COVID-19 and admitted the contagious infection was likely to spread among patients.
The infected patient, who is in her 60s, was discharged from the facility last week after developing a fever. Five days later, she tested positive for COVID-19.
But despite the known exposure to the infected patient, a source claimed to DailyMail.com that one resident was allowed to leave the facility and board a plane.
The remaining patients are left with a choice between staying in lock down or leaving the treatment center and possibly infecting others.
Patients at a Betty Ford rehab in St. Paul, Minnesota (pictured) are in danger of catching coronavirus after a former patient tested positive for the potentially fatal disease, DailyMail.com has learned
Staff at the Hazelden Betty Ford treatment center in St Paul, Minnesota, told the remaining patients in a letter to ‘assume’ they also have COVID-19 and admitted the contagious infection was likely to spread among patients (pictured)
In a letter to patients, Betty Ford staff wrote: ‘At the Hazelden St Paul location, an individual who has been in the facility in the past week – including the residence, the group room and cafeteria – has been diagnosed with COVID-19.’
Staff admitted ‘there are patients infected with the virus in our community who may not be diagnosed or have symptoms.’
Patients at the rehab, who suffer from alcohol and substance abuse, were instructed to ‘assume’ they were all infected.
‘Assume that you and those around you have the virus,’ the letter read.
The state of Minnesota currently has 169 confirmed COVID-19 cases, one death and has tested 4,680 people since screenings began in early March.
A source, who has asked to remain anonymous, explained the original infected patient developed a fever and the rehab ‘told her to leave and move into a hotel.
‘Then she had a test and it was confirmed that she had the virus.’
The center’s remaining patients have not been given tests, despite their proximity to the infected woman.
‘They haven’t given us tests but because we all live together and eat together, it’s likely we have it. We are all in lock down,’ the source explained.
The remaining patients are left with a choice between staying in lock down or leaving the treatment center and possibly infecting others. The center will now be carrying out temperature checks twice a day and have instructed the 20 patients to no longer share cigarettes, beverages or food
The source continued: ‘Usually I go home to visit my family at the weekend but there are 20 of us waiting to see if we present symptoms.
‘I feel fine but there are people who have sore throats and stuffy noses.
‘There are people who are choosing to leave even though we are probably infected with the virus.’
‘I don’t want to infect anyone else so I don’t know whether to stay or go,’ the source added.
The center will now be carrying out temperature checks twice a day and have instructed the 20 patients to no longer share cigarettes, beverages or food.
Hazelden Betty Ford Chief Nursing Officer and Coronavirus Incident Commander Jill Seward (pictured) said: ‘We applaud any patient for informing us if they test positive after leaving our care’
Hazelden Betty Ford Chief Nursing Officer and Coronavirus Incident Commander Jill Seward, RN, said: ‘It was a former patient whom we had discharged five days earlier because of a fever protocol we established to check all patients and staff daily for symptoms of COVID-19—a sign that our procedures to identify symptoms are working well.
‘We are a healthcare system fighting two potentially fatal illnesses: addiction and COVID-19. Like other healthcare systems, we are taking every practical precaution to reduce risks for our patients and staff, and following detailed procedures whenever someone has symptoms, is exposed or is diagnosed after discharge.
‘As a healthcare system, we will undoubtedly see more cases as the virus spreads and will continue to follow our CDC-informed protocols to limit risks and respond aggressively when needed. We applaud any patient for informing us if they test positive after leaving our care. It’s helpful to everyone.
‘The coronavirus outbreak is at the ‘community spread’ stage and testing remains limited, so it is prudent for everyone everywhere to take precautions as if they may have been exposed, and that means following CDC guidelines around hand washing, social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, etc.
‘We have implemented detailed protocols and procedures to limit the risk of transmission in our healthcare facilities, and that includes at least one daily fever check for all patients, staff and others at our sites.
‘If anyone presents with symptoms common to COVID-19, we are taking great care to discharge them with resources and recommended next steps.
‘We also are working closely with incoming patients to ensure they have a safe discharge plan in advance, just in case they develop symptoms while with us. Boarding an airplane with COVID-19 is not a recommendation we give, though discharged patients ultimately decide which next steps to take for themselves.’