After complaining about not being able to receive tests unless they were desperately ill, all symptomatic Mount Sinai health care workers are now eligible to get tested for COVID-19.
According to the head of the Mount Sinai Health System, all employees who have exhibited symptoms of coronavirus can receive a test. This marks a change from the previous policy, which followed directives from the Centers for Disease Control and the city Health Department (where there was no testing unless symptoms were severe or life-threatening).
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the House Oversight Committee and represents the district where the hospital is located on the Upper East Side, told NBC New York she had been raising the issue of testing for employees in recent days after fielding complaints from nurses and doctors.
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"It's just common sense that nurses and doctors on the front lines should have priority testing," Maloney said.
With the policy change, employees have to show only mild symptoms to be eligible for the swab test. Those who get tested will be required to stay at home until the results come back. Tests would be administered first to workers who have exhibited symptoms and/or treated ill patients. Next, to those with sick family members at home, and eventually to all employees regardless of whether they are symptomatic.
Additionally, all employees who were symptomatic before April 7 can be tested using the serum antibody test — which would allow them to find out if they indeed did have the virus, and whether they are a candidate to possibly provide plasma to help others.
The new directive aims to give some peace of mind to employees who are worried about bringing the disease home to their loved ones without knowing it, a hospital source told NBC New York.
It was not clear if or when Mount Sinai employees who were not exhibiting symptoms would be eligible to receive a free COVID-19 test.
The hospital system has seen nearly 2,000 positive cases since the outbreak began, including at least 415 patients in their ICUs. That includes more than 1,100 who have recovered and have been discharged.
As of Monday there had been more than 72,000 total cases in New York City.
The news comes days after all Health + Hospitals employees (the group that operates all the public hospitals in NYC) were made eligible for COVID-19 testing.