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MDHHS order protects patients, employees and visitors at state-run hospitals with staff COVID-19 testing requirement

LANSING – Patients, staff and visitors will be better protected from COVID-19 under an emergency order from Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon that requires testing of employees of the five state-run psychiatric hospitals and centers.

Gordon signed the order today and it has immediate effect.

“MDHHS believes that COVID-19 testing is one of the best tools we have in limiting its spread,” Gordon said. “Testing – along with wearing masks, social distancing and frequent handwashing – is especially important in settings such as our state psychiatric hospitals where people are often in close contact with each other.”

Testing is required for staff at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Saline, Hawthorn Center in Northville, Caro Center, Walter Reuther Psychiatric Hospital in Westland and Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. Subject to availability of testing supplies, the hospitals must:

— Test all newly hired staff.

— Test any employees who are in close contact with someone with COVID-19 or who exhibits symptoms.

— In facilities with any positive patient or staff cases within the last 14 days, test on a weekly basis all staff scheduled to work that week until no positive cases are identified within the last 14 days.

— Exclude from work any employees who are required to be tested but are not.

The emergency order also requires the hospitals and centers to take all necessary precautions to prevent transmission of COVID-19 – which may include requiring any staff suspected of exposure to COVID-19 to be tested outside the facility – and exclude from work staff with COVID-19 until they have met return-to-work criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This order provides the same testing requirement as the order signed for prisons and veterans’ homes. Unions representing employees of state hospitals and centers have been offered a letter of understanding that mirrors letters offered to correction officers and health care workers at those facilities. The letter of understanding would provide 80 hours of additional sick leave that can be used after other leave credits have been exhausted due to a positive test or close contact quarantine.

Further details can be found in the emergency order.

Information around the COVID-19 outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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