Comment: Nearing a crisis, our hospitals need your help

Vaccination is the best way to help county hospitals dealing with a surge in covid patients.

By Darren Redick and Jay Cook / For The Herald

We are writing to appeal to our neighbors and community members across Northwest Washington with a request for support as we face rapid increases in covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. The delta variant is undoing our progress toward recovery; and this wave of the pandemic is stretching our caregivers and facilities up to and beyond our limits.

If you read no further, I hope you will hear this plea: If you are not yet fully vaccinated, please get your vaccine today. Do your part to save your own life, help your community, and to help us.

Where we are today: The delta variant is driving new cases up to near record highs, and hospitals in Snohomish County — including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett — are seeing a surge of covid patients requiring intensive care.

During August, Providence’s Everett hospital admitted more than 320 patients with covid-19. Of those patients, almost 75 percent were unvaccinated. In that same time period, 72 covid-positive patients were treated in our Intensive Care Unit, where we treat patients facing life-threatening conditions; 96 percent of those patients were unvaccinated.

Our primary challenge at present is accommodating high demand for care in our ICU. This demand is driven both by still-increasing numbers of covid patients (most not vaccinated) and increasing requests from the Washington Medical Coordination Center to accept transfers of patients, most needing ICU care, from small and critical access hospitals across the region and state.

What we’re doing to adapt: To manage these extremely high volumes, we set up a satellite ICU with an additional eight beds and staffed them with ICU-trained nurses. That satellite unit filled in a week. We have now opened another satellite unit, with an additional 10 ICU beds. It is important to note that we can only use these beds if we have sufficient qualified staff. Only a relatively small subset of registered nurses have telemetry and/or ICU training and experience. We’re offering generous financial incentives to our current staff and recruiting nurses from staffing agencies to temporarily fill staffing gaps.

Recently, we’ve begun to postpone more and more treatments and procedures of non-emergency cases, mainly due to these ICU space and staff limits. These are important procedures being delayed, such as heart surgeries, cancer surgeries and more.

In addition, we are working closely with our Providence partners and other health systems across the state to allocate demand and try to prevent any given facility from exceeding its capacity of space, staff and supplies.

However, if the demand for inpatient care continues its upward trend, we will reach a point where our contingency staffing and census management measures will not be enough. We will have reached a crisis point.

What’s ahead: If we do reach a crisis point as defined by the Department of Health, we may institute Scarce Resource Management and Crisis Standards of Care. (Learn more about these standards at

These standards are designed to guide us during situations, including pandemics, when certain medical resources may become scarce and prioritization of care may need to be considered.

How you can help: Again: If you are not yet fully vaccinated, we urge you to get your vaccine today. You can find a covid-19 vaccination appointment near you by going to

It is time to redouble key behaviors that keep the virus from spreading. Please:

• Wear a mask, maintain physical distance from others and wash your hands often.

• Keep gatherings small and outside whenever possible. Avoid large outdoor gatherings like concerts, fairs or festivals.

• Stay home if you are sick or exposed to covid-19 and get tested if you have symptoms.

We are at a critical time in this pandemic and we each need to do our part to save lives and keep our health systems from being overloaded.

Darren Redick is chief executive of Providence Northwest. Dr. Jay Cook is chief medical officer at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Sepetmber 17, 2021: Fashion statements
Editorial cartoons for Sunday, Sept. 19

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

A houseboat rests in a cove at Lake Powell Friday, July 30, 2021, near Page, Ariz. This summer, the water levels hit a historic low amid a climate change-fueled megadrought engulfing the U.S. West. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Editorial: Summer of extremes calls for climate change action

The significant investments now considered by Congress are our best chance to limit climate change.

FILE - A person toting a sign from a demonstration against mandatory vaccinations passes a man wearing a face mask by the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.  Across the country, anti-vaccine and anti-mask demonstrations are taking scary and violent turns, and educators, medical professionals and public figures have been stunned at the level at which they have been vilified for even stating their opinion.  (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Comment: Does too strong a message turn some from vaccine?

For those who put a high value on freedom, mandates and directives can push them even further away.

Comment: Courts rule for fairness of fines, civil forfeitures

State justices recently held that a $500 fine can be egregious for some if they are unable to pay.

Comment: Climate solution requires removing carbon from air

Along with limiting emissions, work must progress on solutions that remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Most users are fine with bikes at Lord Hill park

Regarding the recent guest commentary as to mountain biking at Lord Hill… Continue reading

Editorial cartoons for Saturday, Sept. 18

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Vector People Map of Washington, US State. Stylized Silhouette, People Crowd in the Shape of a Map of Washington. Washington Population. Illustration Isolated on White Background.
Editorial: Put yourself on the map for your representation

The state’s redistricting commission is drawing lines for legislative and congressional districts.

Editorial: Return James, King to Marysville City Council

Both face knowledgable challengers but have proved their abilities by helping the city move forward.

Most Read