Health

Norton Healthcare executives said the hospital system is still adequately staffed after 45 employees have tested positive for the COVID-19 disease and about 280 others are on paid furlough after showing symptoms.

The executives would not say specifically where those employees worked. During a virtual press conference Monday, Steven Hester, Norton’s chief medical officer, said the employees worked “across the system.”

The Norton Healthcare system includes 16,000 employees at five hospitals, seven outpatient centers and more than a dozen immediate care centers and hundreds of clinics, according to information on the nonprofit’s website. 

One employee is being treated in a hospital, said Russ Cox, president and chief executive officer of Norton Healthcare. 

Norton facilities are currently treating 34 people for the coronavirus, Cox said. 19 patients are being treated at Norton Audubon Hospital, with seven others receiving treatment at Norton Women’s and Children Hospital, and four patients are at Norton Hospital and Norton Brownsboro Hospital, respectively, Cox said.

On Sunday, there were 439 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Kentucky, with 140 in Louisville.

Cox said that Norton Healthcare staff has administered more than 1,700 coronavirus tests to their patients and employees, with more than 120 coming back positive. Results are still pending on more than 750 tests. About 250 employees have been tested. 

Cox stressed that he is “comfortable” with the hospital system’s capacity to treat patients. He said the Norton Healthcare system has more than 1,110 acute care beds, including 163 intensive care beds. Presently, about half the beds are in use, not all of which are COVID-19 patients, Cox said.

The hospital system has 222 ventilators, 80 of which are currently in use, Cox said. 

The healthcare provider can also convert some anesthesia machines into ventilators, if needed, he added.

The healthcare provider is now requiring all employees to wear personal protective equipment, or PPE, for the duration of their shift. Cox said he feels good about their supply.

Employees can also access an app to screen themselves for symptoms and they’re getting their temperatures checked before they begin a shift.

“Caregivers are very unique individuals,” Cox said. “They work very hard at caring for other people, and sometimes are so busy and so involved in doing that that they don’t necessarily look at themselves.”

Norton Healthcare also administers the state’s coronavirus hotline, and Cox said the system averages about 2,000 calls a day from residents across the state.

Contact Jacob Ryan at (502) 814.6559 or jryan@kycir.org.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.