One week after we reported a new, deadly COVID-19 outbreak at Providence Mount St. Vincent in West Seattle, the facility says three more people have died. Since the pandemic began last spring, The Mount has lost a total of 11 people to COVID-19. Right now, The Mount says in an announcement this afternoon, 15 residents and 11 caregivers have tested positive in the current outbreak. The first outbreak was back in spring, and the facility got it under control by “rapidly implement(ing) screening procedures, visitor restrictions and physical barriers” as well as closing communal dining, and requiring universal masking, as well as facility-wide testing, twice-daily temperature and oxygen monitoring on every resident and patient, and screening and temperature checks of all staff upon entry. No residents tested positive for 6 months, but the current surge led to the return of the virus at The Mount, which describes itself as “a residential community serving nearly 400 elders with an average age of 94. It is challenging to help them follow all precautions, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and staying in their rooms most of the time. Many have some level of dementia which exacerbates this challenge.” So here’s what they’re doing now:
As we face this second outbreak, we are co-horting every resident who has tested positive either in a private room or in a dedicated unit on our 5th floor. This includes any person who may have been exposed, as we presume that they are positive while awaiting test results.
In anticipation of the continued surge in our region over the Thanksgiving holiday, we are increasing our caregiver testing to twice per week.
We are encouraging residents to stay in their rooms, but we must also balance the physical and emotional impact of complete social isolation. Their spirit, heart, cognition and physical well-being must also be supported as we navigate this pandemic.
As a higher number of positive cases occur in the region, it becomes more challenging to prevent it from entering the Mount.
Additionally, as people rush to get tested so that they may justify traveling, they have caused a higher volume of testing and thus a slower turnaround of test results for vulnerable elders in communities such as ours.
We believe there is hope on the horizon, but we must shut down the virus at the broader community level first. This requires hard work and a lot of difficult decisions.
The direct caregivers who are working the front lines must be honored for the sacrifices that they are making. Many are facing losses of loved ones as well as detrimental financial impacts in their own families and yet show up to serve every day. The public at large perhaps doesn’t see in full view the tremendous sacrifices and loving care that is taking place.
The announcement concludes with a poignant plea:
“Let’s not forget that we all depend on each other,” said Dr. David Roesel, MD , and provider at Providence Mount St. Vincent. “Every action will affect another person. The elders in our care built the very society that we enjoy. They deserve our very best efforts to keep them safe. Each human life is more important than the economy. We can figure out the finances later, but once a life is gone, it’s gone. Be careful. Wear a mask. Stay at home. These are real human souls among our elders who are bearing the brunt of this pandemic. When you see the finish line, is not the time to stop running.”
The Mount is just south of The Triangle, and along with its health-care services, it’s home to an internationally renowned preschool and hosting community events every year such as an outdoor concert series.