32 GMH nurses and doctors have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last month and about 44 more GovGuam essential workers have also tested positive within the last month.
Dr. Hoa Nguyen said that with the exception of GMH frontliners, the majority of COVID-positive frontliners did not contract the virus at the workplace.
“At GMH, we deal with a lot of sick patients, but for the other frontline workers … the police or GDOE … it’s at home, it’s not from their workplace,” Dr. Nguyen said.
Dr. Nguyen sits on the Governor’s Physicians Advisory Group. He says that the risk of frontliners being exposed at the workplace is minimal and most who contract the disease contracted it from someone in their home, and not through contact in the workplace. This is across the board for frontliners in the government and private sector.
“It’s the same for everyone. Most of the positivity that we pick up from other health care providers or employers is really trace. When we are talking dates, it really comes from home. Their workplaces are relatively safe just because every workplace is so keen on the mask-wearing mandatory now. It’s really very effective to minimize the workplace cluster, we never really had one from day one. So the message to the employer is to make sure you practice face-masking, hand-washing, and social distancing so you will not have a breakout in your workplace,” Dr. Nguyen said.
The increase in frontliners at GMH having contracted the disease is attributed to the long hours worked by the limited staff at the hospital.
“GMH is equipped to handle about 20-plus COVID patients but when it gets to 30-40 as we stand right now, we really stress that staff out a whole lot. You know, as the COVID number increases and the staffers are limited … I’ll tell you GMH and GRMC staff are very limited and as they work those long hours … you know, their guard is going to be down, the fatigue would set in and that’s where the risk of infection goes up higher,” Dr. Nguyen said.
He added: “We hope that there’s some FEMA team coming so that GMH staffers can take a break and that way they can be focused again. It’s very hard to work around an environment that is so…a little mistake can be devastating. That’s why you see an increase in COVID rates and infections among the frontliners.”