Seattle (April 16, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced today that the City of Seattle is making up to 100 rooms at the Executive Pacific Hotel available for health care workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rooms are available for quarantine for health care workers to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among members of their household and their loved ones. To prevent further strain on the region’s hospitals, the rooms are also available for asymptomatic COVID-19 positive health care workers who must be in isolation but who don’t require hospitalization. As of April 16, 11 health care workers have stayed at the Executive Pacific Hotel, and 11 total Seattle Police Department (SPD) and Seattle Fire Department (SFD) personnel have stayed at this hotel. SFD and SPD are providing weekly updates on the impact COVID-19 is having on personnel. You can find those updates at https://fireline.seattle.gov/ and https://spdblotter.seattle.gov/.
“Our health care workers are on the frontlines of this pandemic, and they are routinely asked to risk their own personal safety to help others. We know that failure to provide protections for health care workers, including isolation spaces like these, can have devastating consequences,” said Mayor Durkan. “No health care worker should have to worry about infecting their loved ones, especially if they live with people who are more vulnerable to this virus. Seattle will continue to prioritize the needs of our first responders and health care workers, and I encourage all residents to show their appreciation for all those who are working tirelessly to flatten the curve and keep our communities safe and healthy.”
“Thank you to our labor unions and our Downtown businesses for thinking creatively and partnering with the City to best support our health care workers. The ability for our nurses, doctors and other health workers to quarantine or isolate outside of their homes and away from their families will give them the peace of mind that they won’t be at risk of transferring the coronavirus to their loved ones at home,” said Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis (District 7, Pioneer Square to Magnolia).
The City of Seattle initially reserved the full Executive Pacific Hotel in mid-march March with the intention of providing Seattle Police Department (SPD) and Seattle Fire Department (SFD) personnel a place to quarantine or isolate after learning of first responders who couldn’t self-quarantine at home because they lived with people who were at higher risk. In cities like New York, thousands of first responders had been diagnosed with COVID-19. Understanding that many City employees including Seattle City Light, Seattle Department of Transportation, Seattle Public Utilities, and others are continuing to serve on the frontlines, this location is available to the City’s employees.
“The Executive Hotel Pacific is proud to be supporting our community’s first responders and health care workers as well as keeping our valuable employees engaged at this critical time and that is why we opened The Executive First Responder House,” said Rimple Sumer, Director of Human Resources for the Executive Pacific Hotel.
“I am so grateful to be able to stay at the hotel during this pandemic. I am exhausted after 12-hour shifts and I normally have a two-hour drive back home. I am self-quarantining from my family since I am working with positive COVID-19 patients every day in the Emergency Department at UWMC,” said Amanda Peters, Certified Medical Assistant and SEIU 925 member.
“The nurses and healthcare workers of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW selflessly put our patients first every day, but we all worry about exposing our own loved ones to COVID-19 at the end of our shifts. It’s a very serious concern, and the ongoing lack of adequate protective personal protective equipment only makes it worse. Providing free hotel accommodations to healthcare workers gives our members some peace of mind so we can focus all our energy on fighting the novel coronavirus and serving our communities. We are so grateful that our elected leaders in Seattle are answering the call to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of frontline workers and our families,” said Jane Hopkins, RN, Executive Vice President, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW.
“These new resources mean more health care workers on the front lines in Seattle and King County can continue providing quality patient care without worrying about exposing high-risk family members to COVID-19 or figuring out on their own where to safely quarantine. Our members in all kinds of jobs, from environmental services to respiratory therapy, are being exposed to COVID-19 and have been looking for support and options like this. We’re so glad to see local leaders in Seattle and King County are stepping up to the challenge and standing with all health care workers,” said Sarah Cherin, Chief of Staff, UFCW 21.
“Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s addition of hotel rooms for nurses and other frontline health care workers to those provided by King County give our concerned members another valuable option to feel safe that they are not bringing the coronavirus home to their families, especially those who live with family members in vulnerable categories. This has been an ongoing concern for our members throughout the COVID-19 crisis. We appreciate Mayor Durkan’s openness to working with us to arrive at this important solution to our members’ concerns,” said Sally Watkins, PhD, RN, Executive Director, Washington State Nurses Association.
“We extend our most sincere gratitude to the ownership and employees at the Executive Pacific Hotel. We had an immediate need and they stepped up to help. It’s important that our brothers and sisters on the frontlines know they’re being taken care of. And, if they find themselves exposed to this virus and in need of help, they know the City has their back,” said Calvin W. Goings, Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.
The City of Seattle is partnering with SEIU 925, SEIU 1199NW, Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA), and UFCW 21 to identify health care workers who need spaces to quarantine or isolate. Because resources are limited, the unions will identify which workers can use the hotel rooms. Health care workers are able to stay at the Executive Pacific Hotel if they meet one of the following criteria:
- A healthy worker who cannot stay at home to avoid further exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 positive household member;
- A healthy worker who lives with a high-risk person, and therefore cannot stay at home due to the risk of exposing them to COVID-19;
- An exposed worker who needs quarantine accommodations because they cannot self-quarantine at home; or
- A COVID-19 positive worker who is asymptomatic or has minor symptoms that do not require hospitalization but who cannot quarantine at home.
The Executive Pacific Hotel has created a set of protocols to protect guests and staff that include: distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all housekeeping staff and requirement for PPE to be worn as well as training on PPE equipment for all staff; physical separation of two first responder groups (confirmed COVID-19 and unconfirmed but exposed) by housing on separate floors; public spaces cleaned regularly and immediately after any guest arrival; guest arrivals tightly coordinated to reduce possibility of guests interacting with each other; and coordinated meal delivery times to prevent direct guest interaction with hotel staff.
In partnership with SPD and SFD, the City of Seattle is doing more to keep our first responders safe. The City launched a coordinated effort to collect PPE for first responders and health care professionals, and is working to divert PPE equipment off the shelves of for-profit stores and into the hands of those who need it most. The City also set up a first-in-the-nation testing site for first responders to more quickly help those who are on the frontlines of this pandemic. The City has also changed our 9-1-1 protocols so that any resident who calls 9-1-1 will tell the operator whether they have any symptoms of COVID-19. That way, first responders will know whether to don PPE before helping the individual to keep themselves and the people they serve safe and healthy.