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eDocTalk article

The “perfect storm” — Reflections on some crazy weather and inspiring responses

February 2017

Lewis Low, M.D.

The flu and the weather combined to produce unprecedented patient volumes across the region last month (see related flu update article this issue). I was attending for two days in the Legacy Good Samaritan ICU during the last snowstorm. 

I got to see the effects of the patient surge as both clinician and administrator. I cared for a lot of sick patients and was also fortunate to be part of the community discussion and decision-making about how to collaborate and ensure care for the unusually high patient volumes across the metro area. 

I had the privilege to observe why we do what we do. I was also struck by the commitment to do the right thing for our patients and our vulnerable community citizens. This is only a small representation, but it is impressive:

  • Community. Health care systems, EMS, county, state and various agencies all coordinated to find the best solutions to address the patient surge. There were joint solutions and individual organizations pledging to do what they could to provide the best care. 
  • Our people. At Legacy, staff from every department worked beyond normal and made many sacrifices. I know one physician who spent four nights in a row at the hospital to ensure coverage. I talked to nurses who spent the night when their replacements couldn’t get to work and went to extraordinary lengths to get in for their own shifts. I even heard that Clark County Search and Rescue helped get Legacy Salmon Creek employees to work so others could go home. To help accommodate emergency department overcrowding, some Legacy–GoHealth Urgent Care centers extended hours. 
  • My experience. I was attending for two days during the worst days of the snow and saw employees working side-by-side to keep things running for our patients. I saw a generosity to each other and to patients that made me proud.

There are a lot of things I can say about how we all pulled together, but the most important is this — thank you.


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