Western State Hospital patient tests positive for COVID-19

Release Date: 
Mar 17 2020
DSHS Office of Communications
Kelly Von Holtz

LAKEWOOD -- The Washington Department of Social and Health Services confirmed that a patient at Western State Hospital in Lakewood tested positive for COVID-19.

DSHS Chief Medical Officer and hospital leadership are working with Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to implement contact tracing.  The WSH patient went to a Pierce County hospital on March 13 for outpatient surgery and developed a post-operative fever; the patient returned to Western on March 15. Upon return, and because the patient continued to have a fever, standard infection control measures were put in place.  On March 16, the patient continued to experience a fever and was again returned to the same Pierce County hospital, where he tested positive for COVID-19.   The patient is currently still at the Pierce County hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

WSH follows protocols for infectious diseases as a matter of routine. In this instance, all patients currently residing on the same unit at Western State Hospital will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms several times a day.  In addition, WSH will limit movement of patients off wards, and will restrict movements of staff between units as well.

All WSH staff continue to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms, and they are also strongly encouraged to monitor their own health.  WSH maintains procedures for screening staff and visitors and has since March 6.

All visitors to Western State Hospital between March 13 and 16 are also encouraged to monitor for symptoms.  If they experience any symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider for further direction. 

DSHS has been preparing for the possibility of COVID-19 infection at a state 24/7 facility, to include providing additional training to staff from infectious disease teams.  Western State Hospital along with all other DSHS facilities will continue to take every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including continuing increased disinfecting of high-touch areas, decreasing non-essential travel of patients outside of DSHS facilities, and continuing screening of all professional visitors at all facilities.  All other visits are temporarily halted per Governor Proclamation 20-16.

DSHS notified its employees of this situation today, and provided them with additional resources on COVID-19.