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I hope you are enjoying the beautiful spring weather and natural beauty of our region. When you go outdoors in your neighborhood, please remember to maintain physical distancing (at least 6 feet away) and take advantage of the sunshine!

News from the hospitals: The number of people in the hospitals indicates that the community response to be “alone together” is working. As of this morning, we have 109 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across UW Medicine, a decrease from 118 only a week ago. While we continue to admit people to the hospital, we are also discharging them back to their homes.

One of my personal highlights during the past week has been to see the inspirational photos that Seattle photographer David Ryder has taken at both campuses of UW Medical Center. His portraits capture the dignity and dedication that you bring to caring for patients and maintaining our support systems during this most difficult of times.

These photos are being shared by Reuters with media across the world. To view them, visit UWMC – Montlake Portraits and UWMC – Northwest Portraits. If you missed Ryder’s earlier photos, take a look also at his Harborview Portraits.

In today’s message, you will find updates on the following topics:

  • UW Medicine Hospitals COVID-19 Activity
  • COVID-19 Testing Options
  • Updated Policies for Staff Who Test Positive for COVID-19
  • Technology Connects Patients with Their Families

UW Medicine COVID-19 Daily Inpatient Census


UW Medicine COVID-19 Inpatient Case Trend 4.20.20 Revised


COVID‐19 Testing Options – Overview Guide for UW Medicine Providers

UW Medicine has four testing locations for scheduled drive‐up testing (scheduled walk-up testing is also offered at Harborview Medical Center) allowing for quick and safe COVID‐19 testing. This model helps the healthcare team conserve personal protection equipment (PPE) and minimizes the risk of spreading the virus in our clinics and hospitals. To make the process a little easier, there is a central phone number for patients to navigate COVID‐19 care with UW Medicine: 206.520.8700.

For information about testing locations, hours and instructions to share with patients, see COVID‐19 Testing Options – Overview Guide for UW Medicine Providers on the UW Medicine COVID-19 website.

Updated Policies for Staff Who Test Positive for COVID-19

We have updated our guidance for supervisors when one of their healthcare workers tests positive for COVID-19. These guidelines protect the privacy of the worker while also allowing for notification to other staff in the event of a possible exposure. For more information, see Guidance for Supervisors about Staff Who Test Positive for COVID-19.

We have also updated our information for employees who either have symptoms of a respiratory infection or have tested positive for COVID-19.

Key updates:

  • Employees who recover from COVID-19 and return to work should wear a mask until 14 days from the first day of their symptoms.
  • Employees who tested positive while asymptomatic should stay home for a minimum of 10 days from the date of the test.

For details, see the FAQ for Employees on the UW Medicine COVID-19 website.

Technology Connects Patients with Their Families

Technology such as iPhones and smart tablets helps staff and providers visualize and coordinate care of COVID-19 positive patients in isolation. The integrated video capability helps not only to enhance ongoing patient observation, but also to preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) by limiting the number of times per shift that staff enter patient rooms.

This technology also enhances the experience of patients with COVID-19 who are in isolation and cannot have visitors. Many patients arrive in the hospital with smart phones and tablets, but some do not have these devices to help connect them to the outside world, family and friends. Recognizing the importance of this connection, UW Medicine has created a COVID-19 teleconferencing solution to provide a pool of loaner devices for patients in COVID-19 isolation.

Nursing units caring for COVID-19 patients at Harborview Medical Center and the two UW Medical Center campuses will have one to three iPhones and/or iPads available on the unit with an option of requesting additional devices through teleservices for short-term, facilitated communications. Smart tablets for long-term use by COVID-19 patients will also be available from a central pool at each medical center. Teleservices at each hospital will provide trained individuals to act as dedicated technical liaisons to provide patient care staff with assistance as needed. Staff may call 206.668.8524 to request loaner devices or technical assistance for this program.

Telehealth services is in the process of setting up shared HIPAA-compliant Zoom and net ID accounts for designated units to facilitate these communication needs during the pandemic. Devices, depending on the type, will be cleaned and disinfected as part of the regular room cleaning and sanitation process between patients. A critical step of the room turnover is the data cleansing that is required after use of the device is discontinued. The data cleansing process will occur remotely and be managed by telecommunications.

The purchase of communication devices was made possible by donations from Microsoft; iPads were donated by Apple. Rory McKenna, director of UW Medicine Teleservices, will oversee the project in conjunction with Molly Shumway, director of UW Medicine Telehealth Services.

The donation of devices is appreciated, but please do not donate smart phones or tablets directly to a hospital, clinic or UW Medicine faculty or staff. More information about how donors can support UW Medicine during the COVID pandemic may be found at UW Medicine Emergency Response to COVID-19.

You may also contact UW Medicine Advancement for any type of donation inquiry at or 206.543.5686.

In the week and weeks ahead, I hope we will see more evidence that we are past the peak in our state’s COVID-19 epidemic. Even so, the most recent forecast from the UW Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation cautions that a partial lifting on business and social restrictions must wait until at least mid-May to prevent a resurgence in cases. After that date, we will still use physical distancing measures in addition to PPE and some alternative methods of providing patient care.

Thank you for your continued partnership and service to our patients and community.


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