Alvarado Hospital Confirms Active COVID Cases at Behavioral Health Unit

"Less than 10 patients" and "less than a half-dozen" staff tested positive last week, hospitals said about the unit, which is still operational.

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There are potentially 14 active COVID-19 cases among staff and patients at its Behavioral Health Unit of Alvarado Hospital, officials told NBC 7 on Monday.

According to an email sent to NBC 7 by staff at the College Area hospital, less than 10 patients in the unit have tested positive for COVID-19. The email also said they have been moved to dedicated coronavirus-treatment beds and the remaining patients have been isolated and are being closely monitored.

Meanwhile, some staff members -- less than a half-dozen, officials stated in the email -- have also tested positive for COVID-19. Most of them were asymptomatic and none have been hospitalized, according to the hospital.

Citing privacy rules, Alvarado Hospital officials did not provide a specific number of cases or the dates of their occurrence. Nor did the hospital not provide NBC 7 with the total number of patients in the unit.

The behavior health unit, which is separate from Alvarado’s main hospital, is located in the so-called West Tower. The unit remains open and operational, officials said.

“Alvarado Hospital Medical Center takes the safety and care of our patients and staff extremely seriously, and all measures and precautions are being taken in accordance with CDC, state and local health department guidelines,” said Benjamin Macapugay, the regional manager of marketing and communications with Alvarado Hospital Medical Center.

According to the county health department, more than three cases at one location is considered an outbreak. However, the county has yet to officially call the cases at Alvarado an outbreak because they’ve yet to be reported.

Meanwhile, the nurses union is weighing in on potential safety concerns, suggesting that N95 masks were not being used because the area is considered a "clean unit," meaning there were no positive patients within the unit.

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“All nurses are provided a new N95 mask every day, and every nurse has been issued a face shield and all required PPE to ensure the safety of our staff and patients," Macapugay told NBC 7. "We strictly follow all HIPAA and safety protocols, policies and procedures to a tee, which is the biggest reason Alvarado Hospital has been awarded patient safety excellence awards from Healthgrades, CMS Hospital Compare, and the Leapfrog Group for multiple consecutive years."

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