How Henry Mayo and Public Health follow up on a positive COVID-19 test

Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.

After a patient tests positive for COVID-19 and is sent home to self-quarantine, there are a series of steps that are taken to protect the community and those around the patient.  

As of Thursday, there are three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Santa Clarita Valley. All of them were sent home to self-quarantine and did not need to be hospitalized. 

Once someone tests positive at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is made aware of the test immediately, according to Dr. Bud Lawrence, medical director of Henry Mayo’s Emergency Department. 

“(Public Health) are going to follow up appropriately to evaluate what prior contacts that COVID-19 patient may have had, what their interactions with the community may have had and (Public Health) will help identify any other at-risk community people that that could have been exposed by this patient,” said Lawrence in a live stream Tuesday afternoon. 

Anyone who may have been in contact with someone who was infected would be identified by Public Health and the proper precautions will then be taken. This is not information that Henry Mayo would have access to, according to Lawrence. 

“Our priority is keeping the patient safe and to make sure they receive the appropriate followup care,” said Dr. Larry Kidd, Henry Mayo’s senior vice president and chief clinical officer. 

After three SCV residents were confirmed to have contracted the virus, a heightened level of anxiety peaked in the community regarding where the patients lived or how old they were. However, due to strict HIPAA laws under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, patients’ information is protected. 

“Fortunately for patients in general, we have to adhere to patient privacy law regulations,” said Lawrence. “We need to protect the privacy of patients, just as you’d wish for your privacy to be protected.” 

At this time, Henry Mayo is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for who can and cannot be tested for COVID-19. 

These guidelines for being tested are the following:

  • Hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 in order to inform decisions related to infection control.
  • Other symptomatic individuals such as older adults and individuals with chronic medical conditions and/or an immunocompromised state that may put them at higher risk for poor outcomes (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, receiving immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease).
  • Any persons, including health care personnel, who within 14 days of symptom onset had close contact with a suspect or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient, or who have a history of travel from affected geographic areas within 14 days of their symptom onset.

“We find that testing is a very precious resource that we don’t want to overload,” said Lawrence. “(If) the system (is) overloaded, the turnaround times for these tests will be unacceptable.” 

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