Health District announces additional actions in response to hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Actions include testing of 2,500 of hospital’s Kitsap County employees

On Wednesday, the Kitsap Public Health District announced additional actions in efforts to control the COVID-19 outbreak at St. Michael Medical Center in Bremerton to protect the public’s health.

According to a news release, actions include issuing new public health requests to the hospital, testing of 2,500 of the medical center’s Kitsap County employees, and development of an incident command to coordinate the outbreak response and streamline data sharing between the health district and hospital.

The health district, with support from the state Department of Health, has been working closely with the hospital to control the outbreak, which was first identified in mid-August. As of Thursday, 49 confirmed COVID-19 cases had been connected to the outbreak, 33 from staff and 16 from patients.

“The outbreak at St. Michael is hugely concerning for our community and all of us at Kitsap Public Health. We are marshaling every resource at our disposal to prevent additional illness and protect public health,” health officer Dr. Gib Morrow said. “In addition to our contact tracing work, we have activated and are coordinating a comprehensive, multi-agency response to identify the full extent of the outbreak and control its spread. We are confident that continued, aggressive action will successfully resolve this situation and help prevent future cases.”

Regarding the comprehensive testing of hospital employees, Kitsap County Emergency Operations Center staff are coordinating volunteers from the Department of Emergency Management, Empact Northwest, and Bainbridge Island’s Medical Reserve Corps, the release states. On Tuesday, volunteers helped to administer 867 tests to hospital employees with testing to continue through the week.

“Our hearts go out to the essential frontline workers, patients, and their families who have been directly impacted,” Morrow said. “This outbreak is a reminder that when COVID-19 is spreading in our community, everyone is at heightened risk of getting sick, including those in health care settings. We ask that all community members continue to take steps to protect their health and slow the spread of the virus so we can prevent future outbreaks.”

Update

On Thursday, St. Michael officials said they are temporarily limiting procedures to “urgent and emergent” cases at both the Silverdale and Bremerton campuses to ensure that the facilities maintain “adequate staff capacity” to provide care for those with COVID-19 and other urgent medical needs. All hospital employees are being tested for the virus out of an “abundance of caution” and are quarantining 115 employees as they await their test results, according to a news release. As of Aug. 26, over 1,000 staff have been tested out of nearly 2,000.

Additional information from hospital officials include:

  • The birth center at Silverdale and emergency services departments at both hospitals remain open. Patients should not delay seeking care if they are facing emergencies such as symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, or injuries like broken bones.
  • Staff is following all public health and CDC PPE guidance when caring for patients as well as rigorous daily cleaning protocols.
  • Patients with scheduled non-urgent procedures will be contacted to reschedule.
  • In consultation with public health authorities, the hospital is testing all St. Michael employees, providers, contracted staff and vendors.
  • Hospital is notifying all patients prior to entry of the situation.
  • Hospital has contacted patients and visitors with potential exposure by phone and written letter and will continue if any additional exposures are identified.
  • The affected units and associated dates are: 2 West (Aug. 3-20) 3 West (Aug. 15-20) and 3 North and 4 West (both Aug. 18-20)

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