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 Overlake Hospital admin­is­tra­tion that they immedi­ately respond to the following:

  1. List of units that the infected patients were admitted to or cared for at any time in the past two weeks.
  2. Dates and times of the infected patients location during the past two weeks. 
  3. List of nurses who had any exposure to either of the known cases during the past two weeks.
  4. What specific personal protec­tive equip­ment and precau­tions were taken throughout their hospital stays?
  5. Copies of all commu­ni­ca­tion, direc­tion and instruc­tions have you given to the nurses about the exposure.
  6. What is the plan to commu­ni­cate with those nurses who have been exposed?
  7. What instruc­tions and direc­tions have been sent to nurses if they believe they have been exposed?
  8. What additional action is the hospital admin­is­tra­tion taking to protect the health and safety of the nurses? 
  9. List of any employee/​s who have been furloughed for precau­tion of exposure to the infected patients.
  10. 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 Overlake 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?

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 Sydne James at sjames@wsna.org with any questions or concerns.