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News >  Spokane

Sacred Heart’s special pathogens unit may be used for overflow after treating 4 cruise passengers

March 24, 2020 Updated Tue., March 24, 2020 at 8:12 p.m.

Some local health care workers were treating patients with COVID-19 long before the virus was detected in Spokane County.

The four patients, who were asymptomatic but COVID-19 positive, arrived at Sacred Heart Medical Center on Feb. 20 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which docked off the coast of Japan after the novel coronavirus spread on board and the Americans were evacuated to military bases and health care centers around the U.S.

Hospital and health officials said the passengers who arrived at Sacred Heart remained in good condition throughout their stays, but they had to test negative for the virus twice in a row before they could be discharged.

Last week, the last passenger was finally discharged.

When asked what was used to treat the patients, Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz said, “Time.”

Now, with the threat of the coronavirus in Spokane, Sacred Heart leaders do not plan to use the unit unless they need overflow intensive care unit space.

“Positive COVID-19 patients do not need the isolation level that the SPU provides,” a statement from Sacred Heart says. “Positive COVID patients do have specific precautions that need to be met, and we are able to provide that care in specific rooms at both Sacred Heart Medical Center and Holy Family Hospital.”

Local hospitals have been in the midst of extensive surge planning to prepare for a possible influx of patients with COVID-19.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is primarily funded by the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, with additional support from Report for America and members of the Spokane community. These stories can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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