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At least two dozen patients and 17 employees were potentially exposed to the new coronavirus by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia cardiologist who was hospitalized with the virus Saturday the hospital’s chief executive said in a statement Tuesday.
The doctor, who is based in CHOP’s King of Prussia location, directly treated about 24 patients over the course of four days after returning to work March 1 from a trip to a country where coronavirus is circulating, said Madeline Bell, the hospital’s CEO, in a statement.
He was taken by ambulance to Paoli Hospital on Saturday and transferred to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was in critical condition Monday. State and county officials declined to provide an update on his status Tuesday.
“This situation is a humbling reminder of the diligence we all must demonstrate when monitoring our own health and that of those around us,” Bell said.
The King of Prussia cardiology office and adjacent allergy clinic that closed Monday were cleaned and disinfected, and reopened Tuesday, she said.
Numerous schools in the region were closed and cleaned because of contacts with the physician.
Meanwhile, in a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Montgomery County officials said a 62-year-old woman living in the same house as the doctor had tested positive for the new coronavirus and is being hospitalized in isolation at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
County officials declined to specify the relationship between the woman and the doctor.
Penn Medicine, meanwhile, says other HUP patients and staff are being protected.
Chief medical officer PJ Brennan said the hospital is “taking the strongest possible precautions to ensure the health and safety of all other patients, their families, and our staff” while treating patients with coronavirus.
He urged patients to continue the treatments prescribed by their doctors and keep any regularly scheduled visits. However — as medical experts everywhere are counseling — patients with respiratory symptoms should contact their doctor’s office before coming to an appointment at HUP or any other medical facility.
“Because risks of community transmission in the Philadelphia area remain low, the benefits of continuing with recommended treatments and health care visits outweigh the potential risk of contracting COVID-19,” Brennan said.