Five more patients have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and a second patient has died at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center after an outbreak affected a behavioral health unit on the hospital’s fourth floor, the hospital system said in a statement Thursday.
A total of 14 patients and 12 staffers have tested positive since the outbreak was discovered Nov. 5 after a patient receiving memory care initially tested positive for the coronavirus. The unit was serving 40 patients at the time the outbreak was identified. One of the patients died Nov. 10. A second died Nov. 16.
The hospital system has already tested 212 employees who had worked in the unit in the two weeks before the initial case was discovered. The hospital system has conducted additional follow-up testing on employees and is awaiting more results.
MultiCare said in the news release that it had been challenging to control the spread of the virus in this particular unit.
According to the statement: “ … These COVID-19 cases are confined to this locked unit where visitors are not allowed. The affected patient population, in particular, is unable to be consistently compliant with masking and tends to comingle with fellow patients more than other units in the hospital.”
The hospital system said it has been cooperating with public health officials, regularly communicating with family members of patients on the unit and that it is not aware of any spread of the virus beyond the unit.
The Washington State Department of Health, as of Nov. 7, has counted 385 outbreaks in health care settings, including hospitals. An additional 1,092 outbreaks were counted at long-term care facilities during a similar time period, according to a statewide outbreak report published Nov. 12.