The pandemic proved beyond a doubt that Valley Medical Center is capable of just about anything that we put our minds, energy and focus behind. We’re nimble solution makers and we sincerely live our mission of caring for our community like family. The recent unprecedented heat wave demonstrated once again just how committed our team is to our South King County community.
As temperatures soared, so did our Emergency Department and hospital rooms with critical, hyperthermic patients. According to the Seattle Times, on last day of the three-day heat wave, 223 people made visits to King County emergency departments for heat-related complaints. Of those, more than 50 came to Valley.
It was all-hands-on-deck with nurses, hospitalists, respiratory therapists, management team members, providers, caregivers and staff across the organization coming together to help at the bedside and anywhere else needed. While teams from engineering, procurement, environmental services and support services scrambled to secure thousands of pounds of ice and supplies to help cool patients, Valley’s Special Procedures Care Unit was converted into a makeshift critical care unit and the Winter Garden next to the ED became a cooling center.
Units across the hospital collected what cooling equipment and ice they had on hand and brought it to the ED. Support staff and their family members brought in food and water for local emergency management service crews who patiently waited for hours when we didn’t have rooms or staff to hand their patients off to. Hospitalists carefully evaluated patients in the CCU, safely transferring those who could be cared for in other units to make room for hyperthermic patients needing to be placed on ventilators, while working in concert with ED providers to care for others severely ill with heat stroke waiting for an inpatient bed. And every nursing unit picked up extra patients to help lighten the load for the ED.
We applaud our Valley staff for agile teamwork and determination. Our collective efforts allowed us to respond and care for those who needed us desperately. Not one hyperthermic patient in our care lost their life during this historic heat event. The entire Valley staff is a remarkable team, and each of them makes Valley an exceptional place to receive care!