- Swedish continues to learn, grow and evolve our safety standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- We continue to improve the care we deliver to all patients, including those with COVID-19.
- Hospitals remain an extremely safe place to give and receive care.
[3 MIN READ]
Over the past year, we have evolved faster than we ever thought was possible – both in our understanding of the infectious disease COVID-19 and in our understanding of how to stay safe. We’ve grown exponentially as all areas of our organization have found ways to double down on our century-old commitment to deliver outstanding, high quality care, all while keeping our patients safe.
Ensuring our physicians and staff members have the resources and knowledge to safely care for you and your loved ones has remained our top priority at every stage of the pandemic, and a source of pride as we have quickly deployed cutting-edge therapies. Our commitment goes beyond words – it’s embedded in our culture, it’s part of who we are, and it shows up every day as we strive to realize our vision: Health for a Better World.
Ensuring our physicians and staff members have the resources and knowledge to safely care for you and your loved ones has remained our top priority at every stage of the pandemic, and a source of pride.
Recently, we spoke with Chris Dale, M.D., MPH, chief medical officer at Swedish about how we’re continuing to keep our patients, physicians and staff safe while continuing to provide excellent, world-class care – and how our approach has changed over the past year. Dr. Dale has been leading our efforts in the fight against COVID-19, inside our locations and out in our communities. Even before COVID-19 was a term we knew, Dr. Dale was working tirelessly to ensure that Swedish could provide the highest quality and safest care for our community.
Read an excerpt of our conversation below.
Can you describe the journey of implementing additional safety protocols during COVID-19?
Dr. Dale: It’s been a whirlwind. We developed and adapted protocols (and developed and adapted those protocols again and again) as we learned about COVID-19 and how to best and most safely care for patients.
We’re fortunate to be part of a great community here in Washington State and our infection prevention experts constantly collaborate with state and other delivery system experts so that we can be sure that we’re doing the best we can to provide the best care possible.
What are some of the most important safety protocols you have in place?
Dr. Dale: The most important thing is ensuring our caregivers and physicians have the skills, training and equipment to take great care of each patient. I think a combination of attention to the basics of infection prevention, like hand hygiene and gowning and gloving, as well as more COVID-19 specific things like universal masking have made hospitals a safe place to give and receive care during the pandemic. We have also aggressively emphasized both patient and caregiver testing, as appropriate, during this pandemic. The combination of that and recent vaccine efforts have been amazing.
How do the current safety measures protect patients and caregivers?
Dr. Dale: Vaccination has been the main addition over the past several months. Now, about 80% of our caregivers are vaccinated and we’ve seen the rate of COVID-positivity, which was lower than the general public at the height of the pandemic, fall to just a handful of cases since wide-spread vaccination across caregivers and physicians has taken place.
We continue to update our guidance as we learn more and as more folks get vaccinated. Just recently we liberalized visitation.
We continue to update our guidance as we learn more and as more folks get vaccinated. Just recently we liberalized visitation to now permit one person to visit each patient, in most circumstances. We’re happy about the way that we are continually learning and improving our care over time.
How does the vaccine factor into patient/caregiver safety?
Dr. Dale: The vaccine is not just helping our physicians and staff slow the spread of COVID-19; it’s helping our community tremendously. Because vaccines are very effective, we’ve seen a significant drop-off in COVID circulating in our community. The number of COVID-positive patients in our hospitals, now down to about twenty or so across all of Swedish, has dropped from five times that much around New Year’s. However, Covid is still circulating in our community and we are not out of the woods yet.
Because vaccines are very effective, we’ve seen a significant drop-off in COVID circulating in our community.
What other insights have you gained in treating patients with COVID-19?
Dr. Dale: We continue to learn more, every day. Steroids for severely ill patients have been one the largest adds to our approach and resources treating COVID-19 patients. Monoclonal antibodies look like they have some promise, too. We’re starting to administer them to a select number of our patients.
Are people still delaying care due to fear of contracting COVID-19?
Dr. Dale: People delaying care for heart attacks and strokes and sepsis and many, many other conditions was more common during the first parts of the pandemic. Now, especially as vaccination is becoming more common, we’re seeing folks feeling more comfortable with venturing out.
It’s great to see more folks getting the care that they need. And that, in addition to getting a vaccine, or maybe the top two things that I would emphasize to the community.
Why is it important to seek care when you need care?
Dr. Dale: Generically speaking, earlier detection and diagnosis lead to more successful treatment. One of the key things that we’ve focused on during the pandemic and the vaccination work is equity. And, one of the concerns is that historically disadvantaged communities might delay or not receive care, even as more and more people are returning back to clinics and hospitals.
We’re looking for ways that we can build on some of the outreach and success we’ve had in the equity space and make Swedish a great place for all to get care.
We’re looking for ways that we can build on some of the outreach and success we’ve had in the equity space to date and make Swedish not just a great place to come for leading-edge care, but a great place for all to get care.
What would you tell people who are nervous about coming into the hospital for care?
Dr. Dale: We’re here to take the very best care of you and we work hard to ensure that our caregivers and physicians have the training, skills and equipment to provide you the very best care possible.
It is safe – and has been safe – to get care in our hospitals, clinics and offices.
Research continues to show that when we wear masks, practice good hand hygiene and maintain physical distance (when possible), we can slow the spread of COVID-19. It is safe – and has been safe – to get care in our hospitals, clinics and offices. Now, with the vaccine, it’s even safer. So please, get vaccinated and encourage your family and friends to do so as well.
Find a doctor
Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult with a doctor virtually, you have options. Swedish Virtual Care connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow-up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory.
Find out the latest updates on how we’re handling COVID-19.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.