YRTC staff member tests positive for COVID-19

YRTC staff member tests positive for COVID-19

From the Latest updates on coronavirus in Lincoln and nearby series

A staff member at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Kearney has tested positive for COVID-19. 

The person contacted the YRTC to inform officials of his symptoms and has not returned to the center. Health officials are conducting an investigation of his contacts. 

The staff member has been off work for five days and will not return until a full recovery is documented by a medical professional, officials said. Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services  is working closely with the local county health department to determine the next steps for screening staff and the youth at the center.

As of early February, 98 boys and 22 girls were housed at the Kearney center.

HHS has a pandemic plan for its youth and adult care facilities on how to detect and contain COVID-19 while maintaining operations, officials said. Spaces are identified for potential quarantine or isolation areas for residents as needed.

The YRTC staff began to log daily temperature checks for all employees on March 19 and residents beginning March 25. Visitors were monitored as of March 14 through March 23, when physical visitations were suspended until further notice and virtual visitation began.

Staff are checked before entering the facility and not allowed to work if they are exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms, according to a news release. 

“We have continued to assess the needs of our YRTCs and other 24-hour facilities in anticipation of possible community spread of COVID-19," said department CEO Dannette Smith. "We did not take suspending physical visitation lightly, but we know that we must protect our youth in our care."

Daily temperature logs allowed a swift and thorough investigation, she said. 

In mid-February, the department began preparing for the potential coronavirus spread, Smith said, including a deep cleaning and posting signs as reminders to practice good hygiene.

All 24-hour facility staff received letters on March 20 explaining how the facility would manage a potential exposure.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSLegislature

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