• By Adam Harringa

Army of Mayo employees come together to identify COVID-19 exposures within hours

April 14, 2020

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Immediately identifying health care workers exposed to a patient with COVID-19, and quickly assessing their risk of contraction is critical to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In less than two weeks, Mayo Clinic has implemented a streamlined process and created electronic tools to close that loop within an average of two hours of a confirmed case, at any time of day or night.

The system is being used at Mayo Clinic in Rochester and Mayo Clinic Health System facilities, and will be live at Mayo in Arizona and Florida this week as well.

Led by Mayo Clinic Occupational Health Services, a cross-specialty team has established a system that integrates medical record data with non-clinical information and contact tracing resources to:

  • Identify the specific COVID-19 case, infectious period, and locations of potential exposure;
  • Investigate potential contacts by collecting information from contact logs, the attending physician, the patient or employee with COVID-19, and in the case of an employee, his or her supervisor;
  • Ensure accuracy using a centralized quality assurance process;
  • Notify potentially exposed staff, who then complete an individual risk assessment with the help of a provider;
  • And triage by risk level the potentially exposed employees, who are advised on testing, quarantining, or any other precautions that need to be taken.

“This is a huge improvement,” says Laura Breeher, M.D., M.P.H., medical director of Mayo Clinic Occupational Health Services and one of the project’s leaders. “The digital tools will add efficiency and position us to continue contact tracing even if the number of COVID-19 cases increases substantially.”

More than 230 Mayo physicians, nurses, administrators, project managers, IT specialists, computer programmers, health system engineers and call center staff at multiple sites collaborated on the project. Almost half of the Occupational Health contact tracing team now includes staff from other departments who volunteered to help.

Dr. Breeher added that timing is critical, since the goal is to catch potentially exposed staff before they report to work. Because of this, the call center and triage process operates around the clock.

All Mayo employees working on campus are required to wear a mask, check their temperature twice per day, monitor themselves for other COVID-19 symptoms, and contact Occupational Health and stay home if they are exhibiting symptoms.

For more information on COVID-19, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org. Also check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for updates.

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About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to innovation in clinical practice, education and research, and providing compassion, expertise and answers to everyone who needs healing. Visit the Mayo Clinic News Network for additional Mayo Clinic news and An Inside Look at Mayo Clinic for more information about Mayo.

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