Coronavirus Outbreak

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. (NIAID-RML via AP)

The Franklin Clinic issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon after a Kerr County official said earlier in the day that there was a coronavirus “outbreak” at the Kerrville clinic.

The clinic, which is on Hill Country Drive, confirmed that one of its employees tested positive for the virus, but said it was not due to exposure inside of the clinic. Like Peterson Health’s urgent care and Peterson Regional Medical Center, Franklin Clinic is one of several that will screen for COVID-19 through a nasal swab. 

“Recently, you may have heard that a number of Kerr County COVID-19 cases were associated with our clinic,” wrote Andrew Tullman, a physician assistant, who services as the medical administrators for the clinic. “We have had one employee test positive for COVID-19, which was found to be community spread and not obtained within our clinic. Thanks to our ongoing employee monitoring program, the staff member was tested quickly and removed from the office. 

“We have been regularly testing suspicious patients over the past several months, and recently identified several who were positive for COVID-19 through community spread.”

On Tuesday, Kerr County Emergency Management Coordinator Dub Thomas said there had been an “outbreak” at the clinic during the Kerr County Commissioners Court meeting. Thomas’ remarks were in response to a question about “direct contact” cases in the county. In that term, it’s someone who had a direct contact within the same household as someone with COVID-19. 

Thomas then said most of the recent cases came from the clinic. 

Thomas later reminded the commissioners that there was community spread in Kerr County. 

At least three other people who were screened at the clinic last week ended up testing positive, but those were patients with symptoms. Still, the questions raised by the positive test required the clinic to issue a statement that it was taking necessary precautions to protect its patients. 

“We have been reassured by the (Texas Department of State Health Services) epidemiologists that the risk to patients visiting our clinic has been low,” Tullman wrote. “However, out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to limit patient visits to telemedicine only, while we work with the state health department to guarantee a safe environment for our patients and employees.”

The clinic said it has deeply cleaned its office, had already implemented telemedicine and other measures to prevent the spread of the disease. 

“With all these measures in place, we still find ourselves facing local spread of the virus,” Tullman wrote.  “This example should serve as notice to the Greater Hill Country to exercise continued caution.  We are not immune from this pandemic, but if everyone does their part we can limit its impact on our community.  While these recent cases did not originate from within our clinic, rest assured that we are exercising every effort possible to contain and end the spread.”

Here’s the complete text of Tullman’s letter to The Kerrville Daily Times: 

Franklin Clinic and Urgent Care maintain its commitment to providing a multilayered, comprehensive approach to health and wellness in Kerrville and the Greater Hill Country.  In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our clinic occupies a critical role in the community through our ability to provide higher acuity care than typical medical offices, which in turn significantly reduces the burden experienced by the local and regional emergency departments.  Through best practices in both medicine and partnership, Franklin Clinic and Urgent Care is dedicated to working in lockstep with our allies in medicine, government, and business to stem the tide of infection and care for the sick.  Recently, you may have heard that a number of Kerr County COVID-19 cases were associated with our clinic.  We have had one employee test positive for COVID-19, which was found to be community spread, and not obtained within our clinic. Thanks to our ongoing employee monitoring program, the staff member was tested quickly and removed from the office.   We have been regularly testing suspicious patients over the past several months, and recently identified several who were positive for COVID-19 through community spread.  We have been reassured by the state health department epidemiologists that the risk to patients visiting our clinic has been low.  However, out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to limit patient visits to telemedicine only, while we work with the state health department to guarantee a safe environment for our patients and employees.  

We would like to reassure the Hill Country community that we are taking every precaution to maintain the health and wellbeing of our brave staff, our beloved patients, and everyone’s families.  We have had a 4 page, 50 point plan in place since March aimed to prevent as well as prepare for such a situation.  We have had the entire clinic professionally fogged and deep cleaned.  We have aggressively employed the use of telemedicine visits for all possible appointments and have kept tight restrictions on in-clinic visits including those with any symptoms of infection.  With all these measures in place, we still find ourselves facing the local spread of the virus.  This example should serve as notice to the Greater Hill Country to exercise continued caution.  We are not immune from this pandemic, but if everyone does their part we can limit its impact on our community.  While these recent cases did not originate from within our clinic, rest assured that we are exercising every effort possible to contain and end the spread.  From the entire Franklin Clinic and Urgent Care family, thank you for your prayers and continued unwavering support.  Be well and stay safe!

  

  

 

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