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Since the outbreak of the coronavirus from mainland China in December 2019, UW Medicine has mobilized our health system to care for people who may require testing for the virus and to limit the risk of transmission to patients and employees should we have confirmed cases. Although there has only been one confirmed case in our state to date, we believe that a high level of preparedness will be needed for the foreseeable future.

Our preparations and response as a system are led by John Lynch, MD, MPH, infectious disease specialist and associate medical director at Harborview Medical Center, and a multidisciplinary clinical team that meets daily to share information about potential cases and to coordinate our activities with Public Health – Seattle & King County and the Washington State Department of Health.

Travel to and from mainland China: On Feb. 6, 2020, the University of Washington provided the following guidance for returning travelers: Faculty, staff and other personnel who have arrived in the United States on or after Feb. 3, 2020, and who have visited mainland China in the previous 14 days are asked to stay at home and monitor their health until a full 14 days have passed since their last day in mainland China.

If you meet these criteria – or have questions about them – please contact your Employee Health Services for further information. UW Medicine Human Resources will be able to help you with workplace support and time-off options.

UW Medicine employees should also closely follow the University of Washington’s restrictions on travel to China announced by Provost Mark Richards on Feb. 4, 2020.

Screening for Coronavirus: We are screening patients for coronavirus based on the following criteria: fever or respiratory illness, history of travel from mainland China within the last 14 days, or close contact with a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus.

We are advising patients and employees who meet these criteria to contact their healthcare provider by phone or eCare before coming to a hospital or clinic for treatment. As part of our community outreach, we have recorded a message that provides answers to commonly asked questions about coronavirus. This message is linked to our Nurse Care Line for people who need additional assistance. It can be reached by calling 206.520.2285 or 1.855.520.2285.

To further reduce the risk of transmission in our hospitals and clinics, a team from Harborview is making house calls to evaluate patients with possible coronavirus. If these patients are medically stable, they are monitored from home by staff from Public Health.

Patient and Employee Safety: Within our health system, we must remain vigilant about hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene with all patients. We are also closely monitoring our supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the event that we have a surge in patients with respiratory illnesses.

When patients with suspected or confirmed coronavirus come to our hospitals and clinics for care, they should be given a surgical mask and placed in an airborne isolation (“negative pressure”) room as soon as possible. If an airborne isolation room is not available, then the patient should be given a surgical mask and placed in a private room while calling the Infection Prevention & Control team for further coordination.

Please talk with your supervisor or contact the Infection Prevention & Control team for your hospital or clinic if you have questions about coronavirus preparedness or exposure.

Thank you for the excellent care you provide every day and for all you do to keep our patients safe.


Lisa Brandenburg

President, UW Medicine Hospitals & Clinics

Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Washington

Timothy Dellit, MD

Chief Medical Officer, UW Medicine

Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Washington

President, UW Physicians


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