Patients exposed to employee infected with tuberculosis at Provi - KPTV - FOX 12

Patients exposed to employee infected with tuberculosis at Providence St. Vincent

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A Providence St. Vincent Medical Center employee has been diagnosed with tuberculosis, a serious and infectious bacterial disease.

Hospital administrators confirmed the case at a press conference Thursday morning.

The employee’s name and job role are being withheld due to privacy restrictions, in addition to how many people the worker may have had contact with, hospital officials said.

While administrators told reporters the worker had daily contact with patients, they would not reveal how long that contact is believed to have been occurring or how many people may be at risk.

“We think that people may have been around this person when he or she was ill,” said Dr. Rachel Plotinsky, medical director of infection prevention at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. “It is a very slow moving disease and people who are exposed very rarely become ill.”

Providence officials said they learned of a single, confirmed case of the potentially deadly disease on Monday. The hospital is now conducting internal research and contacting any patients who likely had physical contact with the staffer.

There have been no other suspected cases, as of Thursday afternoon. 

“This person is being treated and being monitored closely,” said Jennifer Burrows, chief nursing executive. “But more than that, we’re providing the caregiver with support, kindness and compassion.”

Confirmation of the disease can be identified through a blood test. The medical center said patients who may have been exposed are being given tests for free. In addition, the employee’s colleagues are also being tested beginning Thursday.

Hospital administrators would not say how many of the sick staffer’s colleagues were being tested.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, there were 69 cases of tuberculosis disease identified in the state last year.

More information on the disease, including signs of symptoms, are listed on OHA’s website.

Providence officials did not give a timeline for a future update.

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