A screenshot of an alert sent to St. Francis Hospital employees on Jan. 26.

A screenshot of an alert sent to St. Francis Hospital employees on Jan. 26.

7 positive cases found in St. Francis Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Outbreak occurred in the first floor Surgical Unit between Jan. 11-26.

A COVID-19 outbreak at St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way has led to a shutdown of the hospital’s first surgical unit, impacting dozens of patients and employees.

A text alert sent to St. Francis employees on Jan. 26 states all perioperative and first surgical staff members, along with all employees and physicians who interacted with patients or were on the first surgical floor for more than 15 minutes between Jan. 11 and Jan. 26, are required to get a COVID-19 test, according to a screenshot provided to the Mirror.

“In the last 24 hours, we have become aware of COVID-positive patients on our first floor Surgical Unit,” said a CHI Franciscan spokesperson on Wednesday morning. “Upon finding the first positive patient due to onset of new symptoms, we expanded patient testing in the unit.”

The hospital identified six additional positive cases, bringing the total to seven COVID-19 positive patients within the unit as of Jan. 27, hospital officials said.

Required employee testing is “out of an abundance of caution and is considered surveillance testing where no known exposure has occurred,” hospital officials said. “As such, staff members without symptoms will be allowed to work while awaiting test results.”

Due to the outbreak, St. Francis is placing all current patients in the unit, regardless of their COVID status, into “droplet precautions” recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the hospital spokesperson said, adding that known COVID patients will remain in “aerosol contact precautions,” per hospital policy.

The first surgical unit is a negative COVID-19 unit, therefore all patients initially tested negative on admission to the hospital. CHI Franciscan said they are working closely with Public Health — Seattle and King County to ensure all appropriate actions are taken during the next several days and weeks.

Due to the outbreak, St. Francis is suspending new admissions to the unit until further notice, hospital officials said. A nurse who spoke with the Mirror under anonymity out of concern for retribution from their employer said the unit encompasses 28 patients and over 50 staff may have been affected. CHI officials are still working to gather the number of individuals who may have been exposed.

St. Francis staff are initiating a deep cleaning of the unit, and assessing potential reschedules for all currently scheduled inpatient procedures.

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