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UW Medicine’s Incident Command Announces the Following COVID-19 Updates

Screening for COVID-19: We have developed protocols and guidelines for screening and testing for inpatients, outpatients, and staff, which have been distributed to all clinicians. These documents can be found at testing must be done at the request of a provider based on testing guidelines; patients should not self-present for testing. We are working to establish a special employee health clinic to test employees who have respiratory symptoms and have concerns about possible exposure to coronavirus. The location will be announced as soon as plans are finalized.

Telehealth: In order to continue to provide continuity of care and to prevent patients with mild respiratory viral disease from having to come to clinic or the ED, we are in the midst of a rapid rollout of telemedicine visits in all of UW Medicine primary care. We are also vetting specialty telemedicine programs for expedited rollout in partnership with UW Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center. In order to provide telemedicine services, the clinician must be privileged for telemedicine specifically.   We are quickly getting our primary care clinicians privileged as this is not part of core clinical privileges.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Teams are conducting training refreshers on proper usage of respirators, surgical masks, eye protection, gowns and gloves with focus on proper doffing and avoidance of self-contamination to assure maximum safety for both patients and clinical staff. We continue to closely monitor our stock of N95 respirators, surgical masks and other supplies to ensure that we have the necessary items to allow us to safely treat all patients who might be admitted to our hospitals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Please be respectful to your colleagues and do not stockpile supplies for personal use.

Protecting Patients and Staff: We can protect ourselves and our patients by staying home if we have symptoms of a respiratory virus. In addition, please follow these common steps for disease prevention:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. See KOMO News story with Dr. Paul Pottinger, UW School of Medicine allergy and infectious disease specialist, on the proper techniques for hand washing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

Human Resources: UW Medicine is working on establishing new leave policies for staff who are exposed and need to self-isolate.

Media: UW Medicine’s clinical experts have been in high demand by the local and national media for facts about COVID-19. Topics have included general questions about COVID-19 and risk factors for complications: primarily, people over 65 and people with underlying health conditions. Our experts are also emphasizing how important it is for people to call their healthcare provider before coming into a clinical setting with respiratory illness symptoms and how good health practices can help limit the spread of respiratory viruses including COVID-19.

Situation Report: Public Health – Seattle & King County announced on Tuesday seven additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in King County residents, bringing the total of confirmed cases to 21, including eight deaths in King County and nine in Washington state.

Nationally, the CDC reports that 60 people have been diagnosed with confirmed or presumed COVID-19 in 12 states. The CDC has issued travel alerts for the following countries and territories: China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Japan and Hong Kong. For the most current COVID-19 country list, please refer to our COVID-19 Website. The World Health Organization reports a total of 88,948 confirmed cases globally as of March 2, 2020. In China, 80,174 confirmed cases and 2,915 deaths have been reported.