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). You may also contact Seattle Children’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Mark Del Beccaro (206-987-2005 or mark.delbeccaro@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.