Submitted by: PeaceHealth

A message to our community:

As the medical director of the Emergency Department at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center I want to reassure the local Whatcom community that the Emergency Department has the equipment, supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE) available that we need to take care of whomever presents to us for care.

PeaceHealth’s Worth W. Everett, MD. Photo courtesy: PeaceHealth

Our preparations have been ongoing for many weeks and continue as information becomes available about emerging best practices and how they fit into our physical plant design of our Emergency Department and hospital. There are stories of no
masks, no gowns, no beds, and no equipment that unfortunately exist in other parts
of the nation. For right now, that is not the case in our Emergency Department and
our hospital. We also acknowledge that there may come a time when there are real shortages and we have worked on conserving strategies now in anticipation for that day.

We have very strong working relationships with our EMS partners externally, and internally with our medicine, infection prevention, intensive care unit, radiology, lab, and palliative care colleagues and the dozens of other dedicated healthcare workers behind the scenes as we all face the same challenges for this devastating pandemic.

It’s important that our community have the facts, not misleading inaccuracies and language that incites fear. We must all work toward a common goal of being the most prepared we can be.

Thank you for your support.

Worth W. Everett, MD
Medical Director, Emergency Department
PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center

To our community:

My heart is filled with despair as I watch division and distrust spread through our community in the wake of the negative publicity that has centered around our hospital. As a MD and Chief of Staff at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, I am seeing firsthand the extraordinary amount of work my colleagues are doing to prepare our hospital and clinics for COVID-19. And it’s heart-wrenching to watch our collective achievements become overshadowed by the opinions of a single physician.

PeaceHealth’s Anna Dowling, MD, FACOG. Photo credit: Mark Turner

I want to share with you some vital information that has not been reported by the media. I want you to know about:

  • Our exceptional team of infectious disease specialists who are working around-the-clock to ensure that we are staying on the cutting-edge of COVID-19 testing and treatment;
  • The doctors at Northwest Pathology, with the assistance of scientists from WWU, who have literally worked 20 out of 24 hours a day for days on end to increase our community’s testing capacity;
  • Our expert team of Emergency Department physicians who have developed strategies for streamlining care and preventing exposure of patients and healthcare workers to COVID-19;
  • Our critical care specialists who are closely collaborating with our hospital administrators to make sure we have all necessary equipment and space to care for those who become critically ill;
  • All of the physicians – hospitalists, anesthesiologists, internists, pediatricians, family medicine – along with our fantastic nursing and ancillary staff, who have come forth and agreed to work in our hospital medicine and intensive care units when the need arises;
  • The team in our Childbirth Center who has implemented measures to keep pregnant women, newborns and families safe;
  • Our Medical Staff Office professionals who have provided emergency credentialing to hundreds of physicians;
  • The engineers and facilities team who have transformed the hospital’s physical plant to accommodate the worst- case scenario;
  • Our outpatient clinic staff who literally implemented telehealth capabilities overnight so that people can continue to receive care through our outpatient clinics without risking exposure by coming into a medical office;
  • Our surgeons who willingly agreed to delay procedures that are clinically safe to delay;
  • Our incredible Food & Nutrition and Environmental Services caregivers who keep us fed and keep the buildings clean and disinfected.

For many healthcare providers, the work we have done to prepare for COVID-19 will go down as one of the proudest moments of our careers.

There’s no doubt that as a society we are in uncharted territory. The apprehension of uncertainty hangs heavy in the air, and we all sense it. But I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that PeaceHealth and our greater medical community are prepared. We have risen to the occasion and formed a cohesive team ready as always to care for you and your loved ones.

Anna Dowling, MD, FACOG
Chief of Staff,
PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center
Obstetric Hospitalist, Section Lead, Childbirth Center

Dr. Dowling’s letter is endorsed by the following local physicians and providers:

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