[UPDATED] Behavioral Health Hospital Patients, Workers Test Positive for COVID-19

Two patients and a staff member at a Seattle-area psychiatric hospital have tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, a doctor at a New Jersey state psychiatric hospital has tested positive for the virus.

These are among the first diagnoses at U.S. behavioral health facilities receiving media attention.

At Western State Hospital in suburban Lakewood, Washington, a patient was at the 850-bed psychiatric hospital Sunday, March 15 with a fever, after undergoing surgery at an acute care hospital in Pierce County, according to the Associated Press.


The patient then returned to the same hospital where he had the operation and tested positive for the virus, Kelly Von Holtz, a spokesperson for the Washington state Department of Health and Human Services, told the AP.

The state’s Department of Health and Human Services announced Saturday a second patient had tested positive for the virus.

The second patient also received care at a Pierce County hospital, but officials said both patients had been located on different wards at Western State.


Meanwhile, the employee who tested positive hasn’t been at work since March 8 and has since recovered, Von Holtz said.

Western State employs 2,500 workers who serve 770 patients. Employees have been ordered to stay home if they feel ill or have a fever.

Among the other measures the hospital has taken are screening patients daily, suspending visitation, preventing patients from leaving hospital grounds except for medical appointments and having staff fill out forms and take their temperatures before entering the facility. 

Behavioral Health Business reached out to Western State Hospital for comment but had not yet heard back at the time of publication.

As of 1:00 pm CST on March 22, Washington state had 1,996 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 95 deaths, the most coronavirus fatalities of any state.

NJ psychiatric hospital doctor tests positive for COVID-19

New Jersey officials confirmed Sunday that a physician at one of the state’s psychiatric facilities has tested positive for COVID-19.

The doctor works at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Parsippany. Greystone Park holds 450 beds in its building, as well as another 60 beds in cottages on its grounds.

The doctor is currently not hospitalized and was asymptomatic while at work, Deborah Hartel — the deputy commissioner of Integrated Health Services, a branch of the state’s health department — told the Daily Record.

Patients and staff are being monitored but have yet to show any symptoms.

As of 11:30 am CST Monday, 2,844 New Jersey residents had tested positive for COVID-19 with 27 deaths in the state, according to TV station WPVI.

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