We are writing to update you on the work happening in our main campus operating rooms (ORs).

As we previously shared with you, in 2019, we temporarily closed 10 ORs in order to install a new rooftop air handling unit, as well as in-room HEPA filtration systems. HEPA is an extremely effective filtration system that removes more than 99.97% of particles from the air passing through the filter. Since re-opening our ORs in February 2020, we have conducted continuous air pressure monitoring and daily air testing, and validated that the new air handling unit and HEPA filtration systems are functioning as expected.

Providing safe, quality care is our top priority at Seattle Children’s. As we stated before reopening our ORs, we are committed to taking swift and necessary action – including closing ORs – in the event of unexpected test results. In May, routine air tests detected low levels of fungal spores in several ORs and an equipment storage room. Daily testing has not detected any Aspergillus fumigatus spores, which is the species of Aspergillus associated with our previously confirmed 14 Aspergillus surgical site infections. Air testing did detect very low levels of Aspergillus versicolor spores, which is generally not associated with causing surgical site infections. Nevertheless, the air test results prompted us to evaluate the environment and OR air pressures, which revealed unexpected air pressure findings.

Based on these results, we decided to proceed with a more expansive evaluation of the impacted spaces in collaboration with external engineering experts. We anticipate several ORs will be closed for several weeks while the evaluation is underway.

Seattle Children’s shared this information with the Washington State Department of Health on May 12.

A majority of our ORs are open and we are performing surgeries both on main campus and at our Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center.

Due to our limited room availability during this evaluation, we will need to reschedule a very small number of surgeries; our scheduling team will be in touch with families whose surgeries may be impacted .

If you have an urgent clinical concern, please call the Provider-to-Provider Consulting Line at 206-987-7777.

If you would like to speak with someone on the Seattle Children’s leadership team directly, please contact Dr. Ruth McDonald, Vice President, Associate Chief Medical Officer.