St. Francis Hospital COVID-19 Update
February 17, 2021
“Throughout the pandemic, Federal Way has experienced high incidences of COVID-19 in the community. Despite our best efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, hospitals and health care workers are not immune. We are committed to following all CDC and public health guidelines at St. Francis Hospital, and to immediately addressing any cases as they arise. We urge the community to stay vigilant and help protect our health care works and each other by following public health guidance and limiting the spread of the virus.”
-- Cary Evans, Vice President for Communications and Government Affairs, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health
Update on cases
The health and safety of our patients and staff remains our highest priority and we’ve taken aggressive steps in line with CDC and state guidance to prevent COVID-19 infections at St. Francis Hospital. We are working closely with Seattle-King County Public Health on contact tracing and to ensure all appropriate actions are taken.
As of the week of February 15, we are continuing to see ongoing improvements. No additional staff members or patients have tested positive in the last week related to this cluster of cases. We have completed more than 1,100 tests to date.
Due to these improving numbers, we be continuing only limited surveillance testing out of an abundance of caution for employees on the impacted units this week.
Timeline of events and testing measures
- All patients involved in the outbreak initially tested negative upon admission to the hospital.
- Upon discovering the initial positive patients, we began expanded surveillance testing for all patients and any staff member who worked on an impacted unit. We also notified all patients and employees who may have been impacted.
- All employees tested must be tested twice, at least five days apart.
- We have completed more than 1,100 tests to date.
- We have resumed admissions to the first floor Surgical Unit so we can continue to provide care for patients coming to the hospital. In order to do so, all COVID-19 patients are being cohorted on the third floor. This helps us limit staff interactions between positive and non-positive patients as we continue contact tracing and testing staff and employees.
Ongoing COVID-19 safety measures
When we test high numbers of employees during expanded surveillance testing efforts, we understand we may uncover positive, asymptomatic employees given the increasing prevalence of COVID-19 in the community.
Our PPE practices are in compliance with CDC guidelines, so the additional testing underway is considered surveillance testing, where no known exposure has occurred. As such, staff members without symptoms will be allowed to work while awaiting test results.
Any employee who tests positive will be contact-traced to determine workplace exposures and will quarantine appropriately. We screen all employees for symptoms before each shift, and our policy is that any employee with symptoms should stay home without exception.
We have also put the following additional safety measures in place:
- Placing all current patients on the unit, regardless of COVID status, into Droplet Precautions — known COVID patients will remain in Aerosol Contact Precautions, per our policy
- Completing a deep clean of the unit
- Assessing all currently scheduled inpatient procedures for the potential need to reschedule
Patients should not delay seeking care if they are facing emergencies, such as symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, or injuries like broken bones. We urge the community to continue to follow public health guidance. The best way to reduce infections and stay healthy is to wear a mask while in public and in any health care setting and remain six feet away from others.
Additional measures across the hospital system include:
- We have expanded proactive surveillance testing for employees across the hospital system. Widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the community increases the potential for health care workers to become sick or need to quarantine.
- We are implementing Level 3 visitor restrictions across our acute care hospitals, which generally means no visitors except in limited circumstances, such as beginning or end-of-life care. This decision is intended to limit potential spread as increased cases in the community increases the risk in our hospitals.
- We have taken several steps throughout the pandemic to address the challenges associated with providing care during this time. We adhere to and communicate all relevant regulatory guidance on PPE usage in the hospital. We have also increased testing and screening processes, including thoroughly screening all employees before they begin their shifts and testing all patients who are admitted to the hospital. Any employees with symptoms are required to stay at home until they can be tested.
- Since the early days of the pandemic, it has been the policy of CHI Franciscan hospitals and clinics to provide N95 or CAPRs for interactions with all confirmed COVID- positive and suspected positive patients. Additionally, N95s are used for all aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) and for specimen collection.