ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. — The St. Charles County Department of Public Health and CenterPointe Hospital confirmed that as of Tuesday, more than 20 staff members and three patients at the facility have tested positive for COVID-19.
That's an increase of five staff members who tested positive as of Monday.
Hospital officials said they have tested more than 60 staff members, including those without symptoms who may have been exposed and would not meet the criteria for testing under current state and federal guidelines.
This latest update came after the hospital decided to temporarily stop admissions, and employees reached out to 5 On Your Side to voice concerns about the hospital's handling of the situation.
But on Tuesday afternoon, the hospital said it would resume admissions.
“Under the guidance of the St. Charles County Public Health Department, we have quarantined affected units, and made an independent decision to temporarily halt admissions starting last Sunday, March 29," Medical Director Dr. Azfar Malik said. “We have units which have been emptied, thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and, in combination with proper use of PPE by our staff, will be available to safely accept admissions imminently in order to serve the mental health needs of our community at this unprecedented time.”
Families of patients also reached out to 5 On Your Side.
They remained anonymous but said they weren't notified about the outbreak taking place.
"We sent our loved one there for you to take care for them. You should tell them that, so they can choose if they need to pull them out of that hospital," one person told us.
"They didn't give anyone that choice because it's been a secret," another loved one said.
CenterPointe's news release said its chief medical officer is working directly with staff and patients to educate proper procedures and practices to assist CenterPointe in creating and maintaining the safest environment possible.
But 5 On Your Side's anonymous sources said when they picked up their family members, there was no action plan on what to do next about possible exposure.
"No word from them before discharge about taking extra precautions. They didn’t give me any recommendation," one person said.
Several frustrated family members told us they felt lied to.
"Think about the lives you’re affecting. Be honest with people. We can handle the truth and we deserve to know the truth," they said.
The hospital said it's working to open a dedicated unit to treat the mental health needs of area patients who have tested positive, with a separate area to treat those who are under investigation for having the virus. They also said employees who have tested positive are quarantined at home.
“The health and safety of our patients and staff is a daily priority,” CenterPointe CEO Scott Williams said in a statement. “We continue to gather information to determine how best to proceed, and that is why we value our partnership with St. Charles County Public Health staff in making these important decisions. We, like every other health care provider in Missouri and the entire country, have been scrambling and turning over every stone to find PPE for our staff. We were relieved to finally receive a shipment of N95 masks on Wednesday, March 24, which we began to distribute to our staff immediately.”