Here’s the truth: Harborview Medical Center needs help—lots of it—and the best way to help it right now is to vote APPROVED on King County Prop 1.
We represent the 1,400 resident and fellow physicians of the Resident and Fellow Physician Union - Northwest. We virtually live at Harborview, regularly spending 30 or more hours straight and 80 or more hours a week within its walls. Unfortunately, these walls are at their breaking point.
When someone suffers severe burns, a helicopter flies them to Harborview, the only burn center from Alaska to Portland. When a stroke renders a loved one suddenly unable to speak, they will find care and rehabilitation at the Harborview Stroke Center. And whenever serious injury occurs—anything from a hiking accident to a tragic multi-vehicle collision—the trauma team at Harborview is ready with the most advanced response in the state.
These specialist healthcare teams also provide telemedicine support to rural hospitals throughout Washington to improve the chances of a full recovery from the moment one reaches the emergency department.
In 2020 we face COVID-19, and Harborview once again has risen to the occasion. The hospital transformed an entire ICU floor into a COVID unit where we provide the most advanced care available, including using machines to replace the injured lungs of the most critically ill. Harborview staff stepped up and ran towards the danger, and we are proud to be a part of that care.
But each passing year Harborview is asked to do more with scarce resources and aging infrastructure, and COVID-19 further revealed the strains on the system.
In the Emergency Department, cloth curtains separate patient stretchers–-hardly an effective means of stopping the virus. We struggle to keep up with an ever-rising demand for mental and behavioral health services in King County, leaving patients in crisis as they sometimes wait for hours to be seen despite our best efforts. More often than not, Harborview is “boarding”; meaning dozens of patients who are admitted to the hospital have to wait, sometimes for days, in the Emergency Department. Alarmingly, many of Harborview’s buildings are vulnerable to an earthquake, a perilous situation for the state’s disaster response hospital.
We know we can do better, but we need your help. Seattle, King County, and Washington have grown, and so must we. King County Prop 1 will provide the support Harborview needs not just to manage the problems we face today, but also to prepare for the challenges we face tomorrow.
A new Emergency Department is critical not just for the pandemic we are living through now, but also for those that will inevitably come in the future. Expanded behavioral health support and beds are crucial in a state that ranks 49th out of 50 for mental health support. And in a natural disaster, we must ensure that Harborview will stand strong and ready to treat hundreds of patients. Even as COVID-19 challenges us all financially and psychologically, we can think of no better cause to support. Keep Harborview strong.
The views expressed by the authors are their own and do not represent their employers.
Brandon Peplinski is a third-year resident physician in Internal Medicine and President of the Resident and Fellow Physician Union - Northwest (RFPU-NW).
Lola Mudgistratova is a fourth-year resident physician in Emergency Medicine and Vice President of RFPU-NW.
Eve Champaloux is a third-year resident physician in Otolaryngology and Treasurer of RFPU-NW.
Tim Kelly is a second-year resident physician in Psychiatry and Secretary of RFPU-NW.
Amanda Wise is a fourth-year resident physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Social Ambassador of RFPU-NW.
Kellie Satterfield is a fourth-year resident physician in Ophthalmology and Immediate Past President of RFPU-NW.
Alex Adami is a third year resident physician in Internal Medicine and Lead Negotiator of RFPU-NW.