Earlier today, Public Health – Seattle & King County and the Washington State Department of Health held a press conference on new Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in our area. In a separate call this morning, we spoke with Patty Hayes, MN, RN, Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County about the most recent cases and last night, WSNA participated in a phone call with DOH and CDC regarding the two identified cases in Snohomish County and King County that were reported in the news yesterday.
WSNA has assembled a staff leadership team to coordinate the union’s response to this issue, to inform our members, and demand action from hospital management to protect our nurse members.
You may have already seen or heard news reports of a patient at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland who died from Coronavirus (this patient had other underlying health conditions) and a second patient is currently being treated in isolation. Additionally, there is a patient with Coronavirus at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue.
The patients are related to an outbreak at a long term care facility that Public Health is working to manage. A team from the CDC is in flight right now and will be working with our local and state public health officials to respond to this outbreak.
WSNA nurse members report having not received sufficient communication about COVID-19 patients and potential exposure
WSNA has been in contact with the leaders of our local units at Evergreen and Overlake Hospitals. Based on information we have received, we have significant concerns about the potential exposure of this outbreak to our nurses. Nurses are reporting that there has been a lack of communication and specific guidance for those staff who were exposed to the known patients over the past days.
WSNA demands immediate transparency and accountability from hospital administration
As a result of the reports we have received from nurses, WSNA today, demanded of Evergreen Hospital administration that they immediately respond to the following:
- List of units that the infected patients were admitted to or cared for at any time in the past two weeks.
- Dates and times of the infected patients location during the past two weeks.
- List of nurses who had any exposure to either of the known cases during the past two weeks.
- What specific personal protective equipment and precautions were taken throughout their hospital stays?
- Copies of all communication, direction and instructions have you given to the nurses about the exposure.
- What is the plan to communicate with those nurses who have been exposed?
- What instructions and directions have been sent to nurses if they believe they have been exposed?
- What additional action is the hospital administration taking to protect the health and safety of the nurses?
- List of any employee/s who have been furloughed for precaution of exposure to the infected patients.
- Will nurses have to use their PTO if furloughed, instructed to be on quarantine, or home ill due to potential exposure? How should nurses record their time on the timekeeping system if they are home ill or on quarantine due to exposure?
WSNA intends to hold the hospital administration accountable to the safety and welfare of our members and we will continue to communicate with you on developments.
We are currently communicating with administration at Evergreen regarding our members who were exposed and to ensure the appropriate personal protective equipment and appropriate precautions are available to all nurses and other providers.
What are the symptoms and what should I do if I believe I have been exposed COVID-19?
- If you develop symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.) seek medical care from your provider or an emergency department.
- Contact the provider or emergency department to alert them prior to your arrival at the facility
- Contact/notify your healthcare provider immediately
- Avoid contact with others
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue if you must cough or sneeze
- Sanitize hands frequently to prevent spread of infection
Notify WSNA if you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 in your workplace
- If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, immediately let your Local Unit Officers and WSNA Nurse Representative know.
- WSNA is tracking reported exposures so we can coordinate with public health officials and hold hospital administration accountable for your protection as a caregiver as well as ensure applicable contractual rights and benefit are made available to you.
Where can I find more information about COVID-19?
- The Washington State Department of Health has established a website and call center to address questions from the public. https://www.doh.wa.gov/emergencies/coronavirus
- If you have questions about how the virus is spread or what to do if you have symptoms, call 1 – 800-525‑0127.
- Public Health – Seattle & King County: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC): Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
Personal and family preparedness
While we should expect to see the number of local cases of Coronavirus increase over the coming week(s), Public Health’s advice on how to protect ourselves remains the same:
- Stay home when you are sick
- Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Cover coughs or sneezes with tissue and then wash hand
- Have extra food on hand
- Order needed prescriptions or medications now (both because many drugs are manufactured in China where production has been impacted by the Coronvirus outbreak)
Please contact WSNA Nurse Representative Ed Zercher at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.