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OHSU statement on Food and Nutrition Services employees with COVID-19

Measures implemented in Food and Nutrition Services

Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our employees, trainees and the patients they serve. OHSU’s commitment to providing a safe work and learning environment is embraced at the highest level of the institution and carried forward by our board of directors, executive leaders, senior managers and dedicated staff. Any allegation of impropriety at OHSU is treated with the gravity it deserves and appropriate actions are taken to address known issues.

Since the first case of COVID-19 in Oregon was announced, OHSU has taken a number of unprecedented steps to ensure employees can safely and effectively respond to the pandemic, including directing thousands of noncritical employees to work from home; canceling all nonurgent procedures and surgeries; and, establishing a twice-daily Emergency Operations Center staffed by members from across the institution who work around the clock to ensure adequate personal protective equipment; implement workflows, policies and protocols to address the rapidly evolving situation; exponentially expand our telemedicine program to protect our patients and employees from exposure; among many others.

Despite these focused and concerted efforts, we deeply regret that eight employees who work in Food and Nutrition Services at OHSU have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 27 and are isolating at home.

The first employee to test positive had been in close contact with a family member with COVID-19. The employee did not work while symptomatic and self-isolated at home as soon symptoms appeared. 

Before becoming symptomatic, the employee worked a shift in Food and Nutrition Services. Unfortunately, seven of the employees’ co-workers subsequently became symptomatic and tested positive for COVID-19 through OHSU’s Occupation Health Department; all are isolating at home.

Immediately following the first positive test, OHSU’s Occupational Health and Infection Prevention and Control teams began investigating, assessing and notifying employees and patients who may have come in contact with the employees who tested positive. At this time there is no known transmission to patients.

To further prevent transmission of the virus, a number of measures have been implemented in Food and Nutrition Services, including:

  • Appointing a crisis manager to: a) confirm adherence to coronavirus expectations, including the maximum curtailment of staff while maintaining operations; b) appropriate physical distancing and hygiene; c) access to COVID-19-related resources; d) respond in a timely manner to locations where employee or union concerns arise; e) seek feedback from employees on what is, or is not, working; and, f) provide the vice presidents of Human Resources and Professional and Support Services, respectively, a daily update on areas of concern, observations, actions taken, employee check-ins. The reports will be shared with AFSCME leadership daily.
  • Describing in detail the extent of contact tracing regularly being performed, including patient contact with positive employees; providing in-person or telephonic notifications to employees who are suspected contacts, including interpreter services, as needed; quarantining, when appropriate, all employees who came into contact with employees or patients who tested positive; and, sending a communication to all employees regarding the transmission to eight of their co-workers that emphasizes calling in sick when symptomatic, per OHSU’s Ill Provider Policy.
  • Developing a plan to maintain functional operations if transmission of the virus prevents adequate staffing, up to and including moving some or all food preparation off the hill.
  • Developing a Workers Compensation response plan to proactively reach out via telephone to all employees who test positive for COVID-19 as a result of a workplace exposure; and, providing handouts on what to do if an employee tests positive, translated to other languages, as needed.
  • Conducting additional employee training and education on COVID-19 infection and prevention, including hygiene, physical distancing, the use of appropriate personal protective equipment; and, translating this training and education in other languages, as needed.
  • Subject to confidentiality restrictions regarding employment and medical records, notifying AFSCME leadership when there are new positive tests.
  • Screening all asymptomatic employees when they arrive for their shift, including checking every employee’s temperature.
  • Deep cleaning conducted by an outside vendor.
  • Attendance by an Occupational Health team member during shift changes -- two times daily, 7 days per week.
  • Presence of an Infection Prevention and Control team member at staff meetings.

Additional preventive measures in place across the institution, include:

  • Requiring all OHSU employees to wear procedure masks within 6 feet of patients and co-worker
  • Checking every OHSU employee for symptoms and requiring all symptomatic employees to immediately leave and complete COVID-19 testing
  • Offering wellness services in collaboration with OHSU’s Wellness Task Force



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