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3 Operating Rooms Re-Opened: Update on Air Handling Unit Work and OR Closures, Tuesday, Dec. 31

Seattle Children’s has completed the latest step in the installation process of our new air handling unit. That installation work required us to temporarily shut down all the operating rooms (ORs) at the hospital.

After extensively cleaning the ORs and performing air testing this past week, we have reopened three ORs we had previously been using that already have in-room HEPA filtration. Ten of our ORs will remain closed until the end of January 2020 to allow for installation of the new HEPA filtration systems in each of those rooms.

We will continue our extended operating hours at the hospital and Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center. This will allow us to serve more patients in our available ORs while we continue work to reopen those that are closed; we will also perform some surgeries at partner hospitals.

Please note that additional work will need to occur before the new air handling unit can be activated — we will not begin using it until the end of January. Read full post »

Update on ORs Reopening

We want to update you about our plans for reopening the four operating rooms (ORs) we had previously been using at our hospital campus, including the three that already have in-room HEPA filtration.

Work is continuing, and we now expect to reopen these four ORs after the holidays.

The other 10 ORs at our main hospital campus will remain closed until the end of January 2020 to allow for installation of the new HEPA filtration systems in those rooms.

We will provide updates as new information becomes available.

How should we refer patients with possible surgical needs?

Please continue to refer patients by calling our ED Communications Center at 206-987-8899. We will review potential surgical patients on a case-by-case basis with the appropriate surgical specialists and with our Surgeon-in-Chief. During the shutdown, we will perform emergent surgeries in the cath labs and alternate sites in the hospital; we will also perform some surgeries at partner hospitals. Read full post »

Air Handling Unit Work and Operating Room Shutdown

In late November, we moved components of our new air handling unit onto the hospital’s roof. The next step in the installation process is scheduled to begin this coming week and will require us to temporarily shut down all the operating rooms (ORs) at the hospital. During the shutdown, we will perform emergent surgeries in the cath labs and alternate sites in the hospital; we will also perform some surgeries at partner hospitals.

On Tuesday, Dec. 10, we plan to decommission all of the ORs, including the four we are currently using. After decommissioning, construction crews will perform the planned work on the air handling unit. We will then extensively clean the ORs and perform air testing.

We plan to reopen the four rooms we have been using on Saturday, Dec. 21 — this includes the three ORs that already have in-room HEPA filtration. The other 10 ORs will remain closed until the end of January 2020 to allow for installation of the new HEPA filtration systems in those rooms.

We will provide updates as new information becomes available.

Please note that additional work will need to occur before the new air handling unit can be activated — we will not begin using it until the end of January.

How should we refer patients with possible surgical needs?

Please continue to refer patients by calling our ED Communications Center at 206-987-8899. We will review potential surgical patients on a case-by-case basis with the appropriate surgical specialists and with our Surgeon-in-Chief. During the shutdown, we will perform emergent surgeries in the cath labs and alternate sites in the hospital; we will also perform some surgeries at partner hospitals.

Where should I direct families who have questions?

Patients and families who have questions or concerns not related to scheduling may call our Patient and Family Relations Department at 206-987-2550. For an interpreter, they can call 866-583-1527 and ask to be connected to this number: 7-2550.

What if I have more questions?

Providers who would like to speak with Seattle Children’s leadership team directly should contact Dr. Jeff Ojemann, Seattle Children’s surgeon-in-chief (206-987-2544 or Jeffery.Ojemann@seattlechildrens.org).

If you have an urgent clinical concern, please call the Provider-to-Provider Line at 206-987-7777 and ask to speak to the specific surgical service on call.

For more information, read our complete FAQ for providers.

Read full post »

Brain Research Sheds New Light on Link Between Nicotine and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Researchers at Seattle Children’s Research Institute have discovered that populations of neurons in the brainstem have a previously unrecognized susceptibility to disruption by nicotine during early brain development.

Published in the Journal of Comparative Neurology, their findings offer a clue to how nicotine exposure in utero could have a lasting effect on the brain’s wiring and give rise to negative outcomes like SIDS.

“Our findings point to new areas in the brain where nicotine could act as a developmental disruptor and could be important to understanding sudden infant death syndrome,” says Dr. Eric Turner of the research institute’s Center for Integrative Brain Research. Read full post »

Update on Operating Rooms

All 14 operating rooms at Seattle Children’s main campus will be closed for approximately two weeks in December; you will receive an update with specific dates when details are confirmed, likely later this week. The closure, which will include the 4 ORs that have remained open up until now, will allow us to move the new air handling unit into place.

As a reminder, if your patient has surgical needs, please continue to call our ED Communications Center at 206-987-8899. We are continuing to review potential surgical patients on a case-by-case basis with the appropriate surgical specialists and with our surgeon-in-chief.

During the closure of all operating rooms at our main campus, we anticipate using our two catheterization labs  for emergency procedures. We will continue to divert some cases to other local hospitals and perform additional surgeries at our Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center.

As you may have seen in the media this week, several lawsuits were recently filed against Seattle Children’s. We are incredibly sorry for the hurt experienced by these families and regret that recent developments have caused additional grief. Out of respect for privacy, we do not intend to share details about our patients or comment on specific cases or legal action.

Previous information about air quality issues in our operating rooms is available in our complete FAQ for providers. Read full post »

Preventing Youth Suicide

More than 500 children have screened positive for suicide risk in Seattle Children’s Emergency Department and inpatient settings over the past six months who presented for concerns unrelated to their mental health. A new clinical pathway known as Seattle Children’s Zero Suicide Initiative (ZSI) is a universal screening method introduced in March 2019 to help identify and treat youth at risk of suicide. The pathway incorporates the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) Ask Suicide-Screening Questions (ASQ) — a brief, five-question screening by intake nurses that assesses if patients ages 10 and up are currently having or have recently had suicidal thoughts.

On average, every week in 2017, nearly four Washington youths died by suicide and two youths were hospitalized because of intentional self-injuries or suicide attempts. One of the most common misconceptions about youth suicide is the idea that talking about suicide will “plant the seed” of suicidal thoughts that weren’t already there — especially in younger children. While there’s no data to support this misleading theory, NIMH research shows that the suicide rate for children ages 10 to 12 has substantially risen over the past 10 years. Read full post »

Seattle Children’s Has Lead Role in Tuberculosis Research

Kevin Urdahl

Dr. Kevin Urdahl, a Seattle Children’s researcher in the Center for Global Infectious Disease Research, recently received a seven-year, $83 million grant from the NIH to study how protection against tuberculosis (TB) works in order to develop a more effective TB vaccine. It is the NIH’s largest-ever investment in TB. Seattle Children’s is the largest of the four centers awarded funding and will lead a consortium made up of the University of Washington, Fred Hutch, Oregon Health & Science University, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of Harvard and three sites in Africa. Read full post »

Updated FAQs about Air Quality in Operating Rooms

Dear Providers,

We are deeply sorry for the impact the air quality issues in our operating rooms (ORs) continue to have on our patients and families. We are grateful for your partnership and support during this period. Seattle Children’s remains committed to doing what’s right to keep our patients safe.

Dr. Mark Del Beccaro, SVP and Chief Medical Officer

Mady Murrey, SVP and Chief Clinical Officer

Dr. Jeff Ojemann, SVP and Surgeon-in-Chief

 

Read Our Additional FAQs

How should we refer patients with possible surgical needs?

Please continue to refer patients by calling our ED Communications Center at 206-987-8899. We will review potential surgical patients on a case-by-case basis with the appropriate surgical specialists and with our Surgeon-in-Chief. We still expect to have capacity for emergency cases. We will continue to divert some cases to other local hospitals and perform additional surgeries at our Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center.

How does this affect patients currently scheduled for surgery at Seattle Children’s?

Over the coming days and weeks, our surgery coordinators will be contacting families to help them reschedule their procedures. We will review surgical patients on a case-by-case basis with the appropriate surgical specialists and with our Surgeon-in-Chief. If a family contacts you with a question about their child’s scheduled surgery, please ask them to call their surgery clinic at Seattle Children’s for assistance.

We are also telling families in clinics to anticipate longer than normal wait times when trying to schedule their surgeries, and that they are welcome to speak to their PCP if they would rather schedule somewhere else instead of waiting.  

We understand the impact that postponing surgeries has on our patients and families, and are deeply sorry for the inconvenience. We are grateful for our families’ understanding and your partnership and support during this period.

Will my patient’s surgery get cancelled?

This will depend on the type of surgery or procedure. Coordinators from the Surgery Center will call patients and families to give updates about rescheduled or postponed surgeries.

How many surgeries have been canceled or rescheduled due to the closure of the main campus operating rooms?

To date, we have postponed 255 surgeries, and our surgery coordinators are in close contact with patients and families whose scheduled surgeries are impacted. We are deeply sorry for the impact this closure will have on our patients and families.

During this temporary closure of most of our operating rooms, Seattle Children’s will perform surgeries at partner hospitals, including Harborview, Swedish, UW Medical Center and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.  We will continue to perform surgeries in our remaining operating rooms and at our Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center.

What types of surgeries are being sent to other hospitals?

We will continue to conduct surgeries in three of our ORs that already have HEPA filtration, and prioritize those surgeries that are most emergent. Additionally, one non-HEPA filtered OR will remain open for procedures that carry very low or no risk of infection. We will cancel, postpone or divert some surgical cases to other area hospitals including Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, UW Medical Center, Harborview and Swedish, and move others to our Bellevue campus.

In addition to installing HEPA filters what else is Children’s doing to make improvements?

In addition to addressing the air-quality issues in our operating rooms, we will conduct a rigorous, thorough review of the factors that led to this situation. Among other issues, we will examine our culture, our leadership, and how our teams communicate problems and escalate concerns.

Where should I direct families who have questions?

If your patient or family has a concern, please ask them to visit our website for the most up-to-date information or call 206-987-2550. If they need an interpreter, they may call 866-583-1527 and ask to be connected to this number: 7-2550.

What if I have more questions?

If you would like to speak with Seattle Children’s leadership team directly, please contact Dr. Jeff Ojemann, Seattle Children’s Surgeon-in-Chief (206-987-2544  or Jeffrey.Ojemann@seattlechildrens.org).

If you have an urgent clinical concern, please call the Provider-to-Provider Line at 206-987-7777 and ask to speak to the specific surgical service on call.

Plan for Installing HEPA and Re-Opening ORs

Dear Providers,

We are deeply sorry for the impact the air quality issues in our operating rooms (ORs) continue to have on our patients and families. Seattle Children’s remains committed to doing what’s right to keep our patients safe.

Dr. Mark Del Beccaro, SVP and Chief Medical Officer

Mady Murrey, SVP and Chief Clinical Officer

Dr. Jeff Ojemann, SVP and Surgeon-in-Chief

Plan for Installing HEPA and Re-Opening ORs

On Wednesday, Nov. 13, we closed our main operating rooms (ORs) at the hospital to inspect our air handling system and determine the appropriate corrective actions.

After careful consideration and in consultation with outside experts, we have decided to proceed with the immediate installation of custom in-room HEPA filtration in 10 ORs and two equipment storage rooms, and to continue with the planned installation of the new air handling system. We had previously planned to build in-room filtration systems room-by-room in order to minimize disruption to our patients, and have already completed this work in three rooms. The room-by-room installation was previously scheduled to be completed by July 2020.

Our patients’ safety is our top priority and we remain committed to doing what’s right to keep them safe.  HEPA is an extremely effective filtration system that removes more than 99% of particles from the air passing through the filter. Installing in-room HEPA filtration requires custom-building a system for each OR – an extraordinary measure – but one that we know is the right thing to do for our patients and families.

To allow for the installation of the new filtration systems, 10 ORs will remain closed until the end of January. We will continue to perform surgeries in the four remaining ORs, three of which already have HEPA filtration. Cases that must be done at Seattle Children’s will be performed in the ORs with HEPA filtration. Only those surgeries that pose little or no risk of infection will be performed in the OR that does not yet have HEPA filtration. After February, the one remaining OR will receive its in-room HEPA filtration system.

We know this closure will result in the postponement of many surgeries, and we are sorry for the impact this will have on our patients and families. We are confident this is the safest option for our patients.

How does this affect patients who are referred with possible surgical needs?

Please continue to refer patients by calling our ED Communications Center at 206-987-8899. We will review potential surgical patients on a case-by-case basis with the appropriate surgical specialists and with our Surgeon-in-Chief. We will continue to divert some cases to other local hospitals and perform additional surgeries at our Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center.

How does this affect patients currently scheduled for surgery at Seattle Children’s?

Our surgery coordinators will be contacting families to help them reschedule their procedures. We will review surgical patients on a case-by-case basis with the appropriate surgical specialists and with our Surgeon-in-Chief. If a family contacts you with a question about their child’s scheduled surgery, please ask them to call their surgery clinic at Seattle Children’s for assistance.

We understand the impact that postponing surgeries has on our patients and families, and are deeply sorry for the inconvenience. We are grateful for our families’ understanding and your partnership and support during this period.

Is my patient at risk if he/she had surgery at Seattle Children’s recently?

We have been actively monitoring all high-risk patients since re-opening our ORs in July and have contacted those families.

Where should I direct families who have questions?

If your patient or family has a concern, please ask them to visit our website for the most up-to-date information or call 206-987-2550. If they need an interpreter, they may call 866-583-1527 and ask to be connected to this number: 7-2550.

What if I have more questions?

If you would like to speak with Seattle Children’s leadership team directly, please contact Dr. Jeff Ojemann, Seattle Children’s Surgeon-in-Chief (206-987-2544 or Jeffrey.Ojemann@seattlechildrens.org).

If you have an urgent clinical concern, please call the Provider-to-Provider Line at 206-987-7777 and ask to speak to the specific surgical service on call.

Air Quality in Operating Rooms – November 2019

Dear Providers,

We are deeply sorry for the impact the air quality issues in our operating rooms (ORs) continue to have on our patients and families. Aspergillus is again present in some of our ORs. Out of an abundance of caution, we have closed all main ORs at our main campus in order to investigate the air handling system and take corrective actions. Seattle Children’s remains committed to doing what’s right to keep our patients safe.

The duration of the OR closures is still being determined.

We have provided a Q&A below to help answer your questions. We will update you again when we have new information to share.

Dr. Mark Del Beccaro, SVP and Chief Medical Officer

Mady Murrey, SVP and Chief Clinical Officer

Dr. Jeff Ojemann, SVP and Surgeon-in-Chief

 

What is happening?

On November 10, routine air tests detected Aspergillus in three operating rooms and two procedural areas. Aspergillus is a common mold often present in the air we breathe. However, in some instances it can cause complications for surgical patients.

What are we doing in response?

We have closed all main ORs at our main campus. The duration of the operating room closures is still being determined.

Some surgical cases may be postponed, diverted to other local hospitals temporarily, or performed at one of our community-partner sites by Seattle Children’s surgeons who have privileges at that site. We will perform some procedures at our Bellevue Surgery Center or at other sites on our main campus that are not in the main ORs.

We have also self-reported the issue to the Washington State Department of Health and Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Have patients been affected?

We recently confirmed one new Aspergillus surgical site infection, and continue to investigate one other potential infection.

How does this affect patients who are referred to the ER with possible surgical needs?

Please continue to refer patients by calling our ED Communications Center at 206-987-8899. We will review potential surgical patients on a case-by-case basis with the appropriate surgical specialists and with our Surgeon-in-Chief.

How does this affect patients currently scheduled for surgery at Seattle Children’s?

Our surgery coordinators will be contacting families to help them reschedule their procedures. We will review surgical patients on a case-by-case basis with the appropriate surgical specialists and with our Surgeon-in-Chief. If a family contacts you with a question about their child’s scheduled surgery, please ask them to call their surgery clinic at Seattle Children’s for assistance.

We understand the impact that postponing surgeries has on our patients and families, and are deeply sorry for the inconvenience. We are grateful for our families’ understanding and your partnership and support during this period.

What should PCPs be monitoring for?

Signs of Aspergillus infection may include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling or drainage from the surgical site or fever
  • Neurosurgery patients might experience headache or a stiff neck.

If you have a clinical concern, you may call the Provider-to-Provider Line at 206-987-7777 and ask to speak to Infectious Disease.

What is causing Aspergillus to be present in the operating rooms?

At this time, the source of Aspergillus in the operating rooms is unknown and we are actively investigating.

What did Seattle Children’s do previously to address its air quality issues?

During the summer of 2019, we implemented multiple improvements recommended by outside industrial hygiene experts. These included:

  • Removing our previous air handling and purification system and switching to a newer air handler, which has been upgraded, cleaned, sanitized and tested to verify proper performance.
  • Installing and testing a new humidification system.
  • Sealing potential sources of air leaks in all of the operating rooms.
  • Extensively and repeatedly deep cleaning all of our operating rooms and core rooms.
  • Adding a new device to our operating room cleaning protocol that emits ultraviolet light to disinfect surfaces.
  • Continuing to monitor and test our air handling system in an effort to maintain a safe environment for our patients.

To validate that our operating rooms were safe for patient care, this summer we invited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Washington Department of Health and Public Health – Seattle & King County to tour our facilities, assess our safety protocols and share in our learnings. They confirmed we have taken appropriate actions to reduce the risk of future Aspergillus infections.

Where should I direct families who have questions?

If your patient or family has a concern, please ask them to visit our website for the most up-to-date information or call 206-987-2550. If they need an interpreter, they may call 866-583-1527 and ask to be connected to this number: 7-2550.

What if I have more questions?

If you would like to speak with Seattle Children’s leadership team directly, please contact Dr. Jeff Ojemann, Seattle Children’s Surgeon-in-Chief (206-987-2544 or Jeffrey.Ojemann@seattlechildrens.org).

If you have an urgent clinical concern, please call the Provider-to-Provider Line at 206-987-7777 and ask to speak to the specific surgical service on call.