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This week marks several important milestones as we ramp up clinical services at UW Medicine. As of today, it has been four months since the announcement of the first person with COVID-19 in the U.S. For many, if not all, of us, it has certainly felt a lot longer. Long days, a lot of uncertainty and a level of disruption that we could never have imagined before January 20.

On the bright side, we are doing what we always do – learning, responding and adapting. All of that work is paying off. On Monday, we began performing elective surgeries and procedures that had been postponed under Gov. Jay Inslee’s order to preserve hospital capacity during the first part of the local epidemic. We also finalized guidelines under which nursing and other students can return to clinics and hospitals to resume clinical rotations. Our new visitor policy went into effect yesterday, which allows most patients to have one visitor in the hospital and to better serve our patients receiving palliative care.

As we ramp up these clinical services, we are keeping a close eye on data trends. The good news is that the number of patients with COVID-19 in our hospitals continues to decline. A similar trend is being seen by the UW Medicine Virology Lab, which reports that the percentage of positive PCR tests is decreasing.

It is equally important that we continue to take care of ourselves and each other. On Tuesday, May 26, from 1 to 4 p.m., thanks to the amazing and ongoing efforts of Drs. Trish Kritek and Anne Browning, we will have a panel discussion that will provide insights on well-being. For event registration and details, please visit UW Medicine Well-Being Day.

UW Medicine Hospitals COVID-19 Activity

UW Medicine Inpatient Case Trend Data for May 20, 2020

Elective Surgeries and Procedures

On Monday, May 18, Gov. Jay Inslee shared guidance on safely resuming elective surgeries and procedures in our state. UW Medicine is now rescheduling patients whose surgeries and procedures were postponed previously. We are also preparing to increase volumes so that all patients can have these treatments when needed. At the same time, we continue to work with the Department of Health and health systems across the state to maintain hospital bed capacity and PPE resources in case there is a new wave of COVID-19 cases.

UW Medicine has seen a 65% decrease in total surgeries over a 12-week span of the virus, according to Dr. Douglas Wood, chair of the Department of Surgery. Unfortunately, our situation is not unique. A recent study by the CovidSurg Collaborative that was published in the British Journal of Surgery projects that 28.4 million elective surgeries worldwide will be cancelled or postponed in 2020. Dr. Giana Davidson, a general surgeon at UW Medical Center-Montlake, participated in the study and commented that the cancellation of elective surgeries has impacted our communities significantly, beyond what we can easily measure in financial losses for health systems. See the UW Medicine Newsroom for more information about this international study.

Student Policy for Clinical Rotations

As of two days ago (May 18), UW Medicine is allowing limited numbers of nursing and other students to resume clinical rotations at the discretion of their program director. All students must attest to being symptom free before entering a medical center. They will also need to bring their own face coverings for transit through the facility and will don a hospital-issued mask when in clinical settings. Note: this policy does not apply to medical students who will resume clinical activity as outlined by the UW School of Medicine.

In the News

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, UW Medicine has been featured by local, national and international media outlets in numerous stories about our patient care, clinical innovations and research discoveries. A recent story on KOMO News tells the story of a patient in the COVID-19 ICU at Harborview whose best hope for recovery was the use of an ECMO machine, a “last-ditch” device to help patients whose lungs are not working. See Hospital machine touted as ‘last best option’ to treat COVID-19 patients.

As always, I want to say thank you for the work that you are doing for our patients and for each other. Stay safe and be well.


John Lynch, MD, MPH
Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control
Associate Medical Director, Harborview Medical Center
Division of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, UW School of Medicine