Lincoln — A teammate at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center (YRTC) in Kearney has tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The individual contacted the facility as per DHHS guidance to make them aware of his symptoms and has not returned to work. A contact investigation is underway.
The Department of Health and Human Services was and continues to be proactive in its efforts to deal with this pandemic. Each of our youth and adult care facilities developed a pandemic plan that outlines preparations and actions the facility will take to detect and contain COVID-19, while maintaining operations and meeting the basic needs of the facility. The plans include spaces identified for potential quarantine or isolation areas for residents as needed. Additionally, the facility staff began to log daily temperature checks for all staff on March 19, 2020 and residents beginning March 25, 2020. Visitors were monitored as well starting March 14 through March 23, 2020, when physical visitation was suspended until further notice and virtual visitation commenced. All staff are checked before entering the facility and not allowed to work if they are exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms.
Our top priority is ensuring the health and safety of our residents. Physical preparations to mitigate or reduce potential spread of COVID-19 began in mid-February at the facility, such as deep cleaning and posting signage as reminders to practice good hygiene. All 24-hour facility staff received a letter on March 20, 2020 explaining how the facility would manage a potential exposure and what was occurring to reduce the chances for exposure as a follow-up to a number of communications in the preceding weeks, that included messages from the CEO and FAQs designed for teammates to address preparedness efforts across DHHS.
CEO, Dannette R. Smith stated, “We have continued to assess the needs of our YRTCs and other 24-hour facilities in anticipation of possible community spread of COVID-19. We did not take suspending physical visitation lightly, but we know that we must protect our youth in our care. I am pleased that proactive measures were in place and that the daily temperature log was recorded, as it has helped our epidemiological team to conduct a swift and thorough investigation. I wish for a speedy recovery of our teammate.”
The teammate has been off work for five days and will not return until a full recovery is documented by a medical professional. DHHS is working closely with the local county health department to determine next steps for screening staff and the youth at the program.