SEATTLE – The outbreak of COVID-19 at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center left 14 people infected with the virus, one of them dying, hospital officials said.
Dr. John Lynch 10 members of the Harborview staff tested positive like four other patients. One of the patients eventually died at the hospital, Lynch said. The patient has pre-existing conditions, but Lynch will not provide any further details. 10 staff are recovering from home.
“It is very clear that this virus is spreading to patients and staff because of the precautionary gaps that we know are very effective and that work at Harborview and other medical sites,” Lynch said.
Lynch said that by the end of September when they found out about the first infected patient, there they found other employees who were positive in the same medical unit.
They closed the unit with new admissions to maintain patient numbers and tested everything in the unit and the unit contacts. They identified another infected patient and nearly 30 other staff who could be exposed.
Those 30 are already in quarantine and are about half a two-week wait, Lynch said.
The hospital does not yet know the source of the outbreak. Lynch said all infected patients have been in the hospital for more than 14 days.
“So we’re really worried about how the virus got into this unit,” Lynch said.
They are now combing through the notes which staff members have seen which patients can see if they can determine where there may be exposure.
Lynch said they do not believe another patient brought it, and only two of the patients had guests and most of the visitors were tested and returned negative.
“We know that health care workers are positive and positive throughout the hours that follow when patients become positive,” Lynch said. “So we work on the assumption that this is related to worker health care activity. It is very difficult to prove that. Indeed our investigation today focuses on potential gaps in complying with our standard and accepted PPE and on and on around working with patients. “
Lynch reiterated that they are taking some precautions to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 and the hospital will remain open. Harborview is one of the only Level 1 trauma centers in the region.
“It’s a virus that captures any variation of behavior,” Lynch said. “We have very powerful personal protective equipment to keep health care workers safe and keep patients safe. But when we differ from any form or form in the community or at work, the virus takes advantage of it. . “
Harborview said they will impose additional restrictions on patient visitors and restrict patients’ movement around the hospital. They also require all personnel in contact with patients to wear eye protection.