SEATTLE – An outbreak of COVID-19 at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle has left 14 people infected with the virus, killing one of them, hospital officials said.
Dr. John Lynch says 10 employees at Harborview tested positive, as did four other patients. One of the patients later died at the hospital, Lynch said. The patient already had pre-existing conditions, but Lynch would not provide further details. The 10 employees get home.
“It has been very clear that this virus is spreading among patients and staff because there are gaps in compliance measures that we know are very effective and that work at Harborview and other medical sites,”
Lynch said it was in late September when they learned about the first patient to be infected, that was when they found other employees who were positive in the same medical unit.
They shut down the device for new admissions to keep the patient numbers down and tested everyone on the device and those who had come in contact with the device. They identified another infected patient and about 30 other staff members who may have been exposed.
Those 30 are now in quarantine and are about halfway through the two-week wait, Lynch said.
The hospital still does not know the source of the outbreak. Lynch said all infected patients had been in the hospital for more than 14 days.
“So we’re really worried about how the virus got into this device,” Lynch said.
They are now struggling through records of which employees saw, which patients should see if they could find out where an exposure might have taken place.
Lynch said they do not believe another patient brought it in and only two of the patients had visitors and most of those visitors have been tested and have come back negative.
“We know healthcare professionals are positive and were positive around the time patients subsequently became positive,” Lynch said. “So we operate under the assumption that this was linked to the activity of health professionals. It will be very difficult to prove it. Really, our study right now is focused on potential gaps in compliance with our standard and accepted personal protective equipment and in and around working with. patients. “
Lynch reiterated that they are taking several precautions to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19, and the hospital remains open. Harborview is one of the only level 1 trauma centers in the region.
“This is a virus that offers every variation in behavior,” Lynch said. “We have very robust personal protective equipment to protect healthcare professionals and also to protect patients. But when we differentiate ourselves from it in any form or form in society or in the workplace, this virus exploits it.”
Harborview says they will set additional limits for patient visitors and restrict patients’ movements around the hospital. They also require all staff who interact with patients to wear eye protection.