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PeaceHealth investigating COVID outbreak after 14 cases found at hospital

PeaceHealth is still investigating after 14 people — 10 patients and four employees — tested positive for COVID-19.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — A total of 14 people, including 10 patients and four employees, have recently tested positive for COVID-19 at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington.

All of the people who tested positive have links to the same patient floor and only five of the 14 are vaccinated. According to a press release, the only people exhibiting symptoms are unvaccinated. Only one of the four health care workers is fully vaccinated.

Visits to the hospital are restricted while PeaceHealth investigates the exposure, which means for the most part visitors are not currently allowed. The floor in question has been closed to new patients as well.  

PeaceHealth has identified 44 discharged patients that may have been exposed to the outbreak, and according to Director of Infection Prevention Catherine Kroll all 44 have been contacted.

So if you're a (discharged) patient out there and you’re worried that you may have been exposed while you were here, unless you received a call from our hospital or the public health department, we have no evidence that you were exposed," said Kroll.

The Washington Department of Health is testing to see if these cases are the delta variant.

“I have full confidence in our highly qualified health care professionals to manage through this recent incident,” said chief medical officer Lawrence Neville in a press release. “We have been treating COVID-19 patients for more than 16 months and have cared for more than 1,000. Our Infection Prevention specialists immediately began conducting a thorough review to understand the root causes of this situation, and to ensure further protection for our patients and caregivers.”

PeaceHealth said it continues to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state guidance which includes employees wearing personal protective equipment and masks, testing all admitted patients, restricting visitors and caring for COVID-19 patients in isolated units.

“While COVID-19 activity has decreased in Clark County in recent weeks, the virus is still circulating and we still have a large portion of our community that is unvaccinated,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer and Public Health director. “The COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at preventing infection, but they’re not perfect. A small number of people who are fully vaccinated may still get COVID-19, but early evidence shows the vaccines make that illness less severe.”

Neville continued in the press release to point out that despite states reopening, the pandemic and virus press on.

“Getting vaccinated continues to be the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against COVID-19” Melnick added.

In Clark County, 62% of residents 16 and older have had at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. 

"We need to get those numbers up higher," Melnick said.