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This negative is a positive for island and community health

April 16, 2020

FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash.,  – With shared purpose, PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center and San Juan County Health and Community Services continue to work together to control the spread of novel coronavirus and ensure the health of island communities. On Tuesday, April 14, both organizations were informed of COVID-19 test results performed for PeaceHealth employees at the medical center. Of the 92 caregivers working at this location, all were asymptomatic and all tested negative for the virus.

“These results are reassuring for both our caregivers working in the medical center and for our community,” remarked Merry-Ann Keane, chief administrative officer, at PeaceHealth Peace Island. “It reinforces our belief that PeaceHealth and CDC practices, along with recommendations by County Health Officer, Frank James, MD, are working to prevent community spread of the virus.” Following recommendations by James, PeaceHealth Peace Island implemented universal masking and testing for its caregiver employees beginning April 4. 

Island residents have been aware that the virus has been present in their community since March 20 when San Juan County Health confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the county. Aggressive efforts to ensure hygiene, to limit social contact and to remove any opportunity for disease transmission have been essential at minimizing spread. According to James, infection prevention and safety measures implemented at the medical center also appear to be successful in minimizing exposure risks. “I remain encouraged by the limited numbers of positive test results reported on San Juan Island including those reported through the medical center. The community has taken recommendations seriously and these efforts are definitely working,” he said.

Both Keane and James take their respective roles earnestly and have been diligent in their approach to curb the spread and exponential growth of the infection. Keane at the local level with responsibility for planning and preparations at the medical center; and James with broader responsibilities for the health and safety of all San Juan County residents.  

Actions taken by both organizations weeks earlier, in collaboration with community partners, appear to have made a difference. “PeaceHealth Peace Island continues to be a safe place to come for care and we value the support received by Dr. James,” said Keane.

James reminds residents to continue to closely adhere to social distancing,  handwashing, and covering their faces in public, adding that, “We’re not nearing the end of this pandemic and everyone must remain mindful of the need to protect all citizens, but especially our most vulnerable islanders.”

For important resources and information, please visit PeaceHealth’s Know Coronavirus at and the San Juan County COVID-19 page at


About PeaceHealth: Based in Vancouver, Wash., PeaceHealth is a not-for-profit Catholic health system offering care to communities in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. In 1890, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace founded what has become PeaceHealth. PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center, a 10-bed Critical Access Hospital in Friday Harbor, serves communities in the San Juan Islands. Key services include general and orthopedic surgery, oncology, behavioral health and primary care.