MultiCare Auburn site sees more COVID-19 cases among staff, patients and 1 new death

MultiCare Auburn site sees more COVID-19 cases among staff, patients and 1 new death
(KIRO 7 News)

AUBURN, Wash. — Tacoma-based MultiCare on Thursday announced more cases have been detected in a COVID-19 outbreak at its Auburn Medical Center, for a total of 14 patients (two of whom have died) and 12 workers with confirmed positive results.

The health system reported that five more patients in the hospital’s behavioral health unit have tested positive for COVID-19 and a second COVID-19 positive patient died Nov. 16.

Seven additional workers also have tested positive.

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The outbreak started with an initial patient case discovered Nov. 5 in the memory-care section of the behavioral health unit on the fourth floor, spreading to eight patients and five employees. One patient died Nov. 10.

According to the health system: “As soon as we became aware of the positive case, we followed our COVID-19 protocols and immediately began notification and testing for potentially exposed patients and employees and isolated the positive patient. We then isolated any suspected cases and the eight additional confirmed COVID-19 patients, creating a specific COVID unit for these patients.”

The health system added that the cases are confined to the locked unit “where visitors are not allowed.”

“The affected patient population, in particular, is unable to be consistently compliant with masking and tends to commingle with fellow patients more than other units in the hospital.”

MultiCare said it is continuing to work with Public Health - Seattle & King County on follow-up testing in the investigation.

“We have also been regularly communicating with the families of the patients in this unit so they have the latest information about their family member. There has not been spread outside that unit that we are aware of,” the health system said Thursday.

MultiCare says 212 employees were in the unit in the 14 days before the first positive case was detected, and said all have been tested:

“Twelve employees returned a positive test. We have received all first-round test results, have conducted any necessary follow-up tests, and are currently awaiting results of our follow-up testing.”

The 12 workers are recovering at home, the health system said.

“MultiCare is following all public health recommendations and has the PPE we need for our employees to continue to safely care for all of our patients at Auburn Medical Center and throughout our health system,” it said.

In a separate update provided Thursday, Tacoma-based CHI Franciscan told The News Tribune that its seventh floor at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma “was cleared to reopen last week in alignment with staffing and testing recommendations from Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.”

“No additional staff or patients have tested positive related to the seventh-floor cases since the first round of testing,” CHI Franciscan told The News Tribune on Thursday.

On Nov. 10, CHI Franciscan reported that 23 employees and four patients at St. Joe’s had tested positive for COVID-19 in a mix of the October outbreak on its seventh floor and later separate cases attributed to community spread.