A special coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing study involving patients and staff at the Wyoming State Hospital (WSH) in Evanston found no new cases, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) announced today.
A “Community Protection Initiative” team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently visited WSH, a state-run psychiatric facility and part of WDH, during their efforts that included support for infection control procedures. As an opportunity for more in-depth follow up, the CDC recommended what’s known as a point prevalence survey, which involves testing a large number of people within a limited time period.
CDC team members and WSH nursing staff collected samples from 46 patients and 172 staff members on May 1 using supplies provided by the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory in Cheyenne, also part of WDH. Samples were tested over the weekend at the same lab.
All 218 patients and staff tested negative for COVID-19 with only one specimen untested due to a labeling issue. The voluntary testing amounted to a 61 percent sample of both patients and hospital employees.
Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, said studies like this are generally used to gain a better understanding of how much a disease is affecting people and circulating in a given location. “With the unique challenges involving infection control within a psychiatric treatment facility and the state hospital’s role as an important employer in the Evanston community, we all welcomed this opportunity when it was offered by the CDC team,” she said.
Bill Rein, WSH administrator with WDH, said the results were very encouraging to the hospital and to all of the professionals involved in the testing. “CDC team members complimented us on the processes we had in place since the pandemic began and recommended we continue following our established protocols as the pandemic continues,” he said. “I want to commend hospital staff for their hard work and thank the CDC team members, local public health representatives and the staff at the state laboratory for their help with this project.”
Rein said infection control measures noted by the CDC included multiple levels of screening before new patients were admitted, testing patients before admissions and discharges, limiting attendance at in-person meetings, increasing sanitation, taking special precautions when transporting patients, fit-testing staff for masks early in the pandemic and establishing quarantine and isolation units and processes to safeguard patients and staff.
Two WSH patients who had been transferred from another facility tested positive for COVID-19 in mid April shortly after their arrival.
For more information about COVID-19 from WDH visit: https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/infectious-disease-epidemiology-unit/disease/novel-coronavirus/. To learn more about State of Wyoming COVID-19 resources and response efforts, visit: https://covid19.wyo.gov/.