Scott County resident sick in Tennessee

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — An employee of Saint Francis Medical Center who was visiting a daughter out of state has been diagnosed with COVID-19, said the CEO of the health system, Maryann Reese.

“She was last in Cape Girardeau on March 6,” Reese said, which is 12 days ago. According to the World Health Organization, symptoms of coronavirus may appear on to 14 days after exposure but the average incubation period is five days.

“We don’t believe anyone here has been exposed. There are no signs of symptoms with any other employee, but we are taking precautions about anyone she might have interacted with,” Reese said during a telephone call to the Southeast Missourian on Wednesday evening. Also on the call was Dr. Thomas Diemer, chief medical officer at the hospital.

According to Reese, the employee is a manager in one of the hospital’s business offices “and has no contact with patients in her official capacity.”

“She is not in a clinical area. She is not a clinician. She is not a doctor,” Reese said to questions.

“She’s a very valuable employee, and we’re all worried about her,” Reese said. “She is very ill and has been hospitalized in Clarksville, Tennessee.”

Reese did not know whether the employee was a Cape Girardeau native. 

But a woman, who identified herself as niece to the patient on Facebook and then in a call to the Southeast Missourian, said her aunt lives in Scott County but works in Cape Girardeau.

“All the other information was correct,” she said. The woman, Myriah Paige, provided additional information the newspaper did not originally report but knew, including that the daughter of the woman diagnosed with COVID-19 lives in North Carolina.

“My aunt was driving from North Carolina through Tennessee when she began to feel sick and sought medical attention there,” Paige said.

Unrelated to this specific case, Reese pointed the public to a new “dedicated Nurse Coronavirus Hotline,” which will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at (573) 331-4200 to any Saint Francis patient or community member.

“We have six dedicated coronavirus nurses available to answer questions from anybody concerned,” Reese said.

According to an announcement on the Saint Francis Facebook page, the nurses “will answer any COVID-19 questions as well as provide screenings and next steps if needed.”

Diemer encouraged the public to be mindful of guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including washing hands regularly and staying at home if sick.

“If they are concerned, stay home, call the nurse coronavirus hotline. Do not go to the hospital or doctor’s office,” Diemer said.

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