Northwest Kidney Centers, similar to the rest of the country, is experiencing an increase of COVID-19 positive cases at some of our clinics. Recently, we have experienced an outbreak, meaning that we’ve seen several cases of patients and/or staff test positive for COVID-19. The Washington State Department of Health defines an outbreak as two or more cases of lab confirmed COVID-19 in patients or staff who do not share a household. We cannot positively say where the transmission occurred in all cases. We are working hard to prevent future transmission.
As an organization that works with extremely medically fragile patients who require regular kidney dialysis treatment to survive, we were the first dialysis provider in the country to provide dialysis to patients with COVID-19. When we first became aware of the impacts of this pandemic in late February 2020, we spent two weeks with staff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) creating effective protocols that are now used throughout the dialysis community and across the country.
As we’ve seen the number of COVID-19 cases increase, we continue to partner with the CDC and Public Health – Seattle & King County on best practices. We are re-emphasizing the following previously implemented protocols for patients being treated in our facilities:
- Screening all patients and staff for COVID-19 before entering our facilities.
- Requiring all staff and all patients to wear masks when in our facilities, including requiring patients to wear masks to start dialysis and throughout their dialysis treatment.
- Requiring clinic staff to wear additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while treating patients with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and encouraging patients with symptoms to be tested for COVID-19.
- Not allowing patients to eat while on dialysis.
- Permitting only one visitor per patient in our clinics if that visitor is needed to support the patient throughout treatment.
- Evaluating each positive COVID-19 case and, in coordination with Public Health – Seattle & King County, identifying any contacts and following testing and isolation guidelines.
The health of our patients and our staff is our top priority. We encourage everyone to continue to wear a mask when outside of their households, avoid all gatherings, wash hands frequently, avoid touching their faces and maintain physical distancing at all times.
Anyone with questions or concerns is encouraged to contact:
Liz McNamara, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Services
Dr. Suzanne Watnick, Chief Medical Officer