COVID 19 nurses

More than 160 employees of the three largest health systems in Middle Tennessee are self-isolating from COVID-19, with 112 of them still waiting for their test results. 

Officials at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Ascension Saint Thomas and HCA Healthcare's TriStar Health System were unable to confirm what percentage of the 161 people are clinicians. But on Tuesday, Metro health officials confirmed a disproportionate amount of health care workers have become infected. 

Ascension Saint Thomas spokespeople confirmed Wednesday that 75 of their associates have been identified as potentially infected and are having to self-isolate as they await test results. An official was unable to say prior to publication of this story how many employees have tested positive. 

TriStar Health said its seven regional facilities — Centennial, Skyline, Hendersonville, Summit, Southern Hills, Horizon and Stonecrest — have isolated 37 employees who are awaiting test results. Spokeswoman Lisa Gardi said “only a handful” of employees have tested positive for the infection. 

HCA issued a company-wide universal mask protocol, making all staff and providers in patient care areas throughout the hospital wear masks. While officials say they now have an adequate supply for protective equipment for physicians, they are instating preservation efforts to conserve their stockpiles.

Neither Ascension nor TriStar officials were able to comment on how long their employees have been waiting for test results. Both systems have been sending tests to the Tennessee state lab and national labs used by other states that have seen backlogs in recent weeks. 

A spokesman for VUMC on Tuesday confirmed that 86 total employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and 49 of them are still self-isolating. The other 37 have recovered and are back working as of Tuesday afternoon. 

The nonprofit medical center is now seeking temporary nurses to help with its pandemic efforts as patient volumes increase and more health care providers become infected. For now, officials say there has not been a strain on their clinical teams. 

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