Skip to main content

As much as we hoped this would not be the case, we are entering the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Washington state, new diagnoses per day have nearly doubled over the last week, and the same trend is being seen in King County and in our daily hospital census at UW Medicine.

In response to these trends, we are beginning to implement our surge plans so that we can care for more patients with COVID-19. The good news is that we know much more about COVID-19 than we did in the spring. Our infrastructure for surge planning is already in place, and we are building on what we have learned previously about how to care for patients safely. We are also adjusting our plans to limit the impact on our clinicians and staff, financial stability, and patient care operations whenever possible.

Our UW Medicine Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has guided our system-level response continuously since it was activated on Feb. 29, 2020. As we see increased numbers of hospitalized patients with COVID-19, more positive tests, and overall hospital capacity constraints, we are increasing our EOC activities to support the key surge areas of bed capacity, staffing needs, and supplies, including resource allocation to make sure that we have the personal protective equipment needed to safely care for patients.

As part of our surge plans, we are working to maintain access to essential care. Similar to last spring, we are developing guidelines for the triage of surgeries and procedures to create capacity for COVID-19 patients, but we are also taking into account our goal to serve patients with other critical needs so that they do not delay vital and potentially life-saving hospital care. Clinics will continue to balance in-person versus telemedicine visits based on the safety of our healthcare team and the needs of our patients.

The response of our UW Medicine community and your support for one another through this unprecedented time continue to be inspirational. We have adapted to new information, learned from our mistakes, and leveraged our innovation to maintain our excellence and leadership in clinical care, education, and research.

We know what works: masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, and reducing the duration of interactions. We must be diligent with these practices at work and at home. This holiday season will be different as we avoid social gatherings while finding new ways to connect with family and friends. However, we must act now and engage our community to prevent our healthcare systems from being overwhelmed.

These next few months will not be easy, but together we will continue to lead our regional response to this public health crisis. We are committed to listening to your ideas, your concerns, and how we can best support you during this difficult time. Our greatest resource is our people. We can do this together.


Lisa Brandenburg
President, UW Medicine Hospitals & Clinics
Vice President for Medical Affairs
University of Washington

Timothy H. Dellit, MD
Chief Medical Officer, UW Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs,
University of Washington, and
President, UW Physicians