St. Michael’s Medical Center in Silverdale, Wash., has once again made national headlines. As of 6 p.m. last Friday, the emergency room was overwhelmed with patients as several county fire departments simultaneously received a high number of emergency calls.
With a full emergency room and a full ambulance bay, plus several more on the way with severe trauma, Kitsap County fire chiefs activated procedures based on those of the high-fatality incidents. According reports, nine fire and EMS units faced wait times of up to three hours. Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue had a department manager stationed at the hospital to help coordinate patient care.
Mass casualty procedures are more common in times of war or after natural disasters. However, due to the continued shortage of nurses, other hospitals may need to implement such protocols in the future. Additionally, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, mass casualty protocols were often implemented in the hardest hit areas.
The mass casualty designation allowed each doctor to treat multiple patients, which would not have been allowed under normal circumstances, Gillard said.
“In our experience, even when St. Michael’s Emergency Department is busy, the most seriously ill or injured patients receive the care they need quickly. Nonetheless, we want to do what we can to ensure that all of our emergency medical patients – critical or not – can get the treatment they seek in a timely manner and our units can return to their districts ready to respond to the next emergency,” Jim Gillard, president of the Kitsap County Fire Chiefs Association and chief of the Poulsbo Fire Department, said in a statement.
President of Chad Melton Hospital said“I am proud of the staff at St. Michael Medical Center who went above and beyond to manage a multiple trauma patient event over the weekend. We are grateful for our partnership with EMS which allows us to handle multiple emergencies immediately, without compromising care for other patients.”
Kelsay Irby, the ER nurse who called 911 several weeks ago, said the situation on Friday was a perfect storm. The ER was understaffed the night before, so there was already a backlog of patients on Friday morning and they were never able to catch up. Irby reported that the ambulance phone rang for more than 35 minutes straight. “I’ve seen busy days, but it was really incredibly busy,” she said. said“Sometimes it happens like that. You could be the best-staffed hospital in the world with no problem and sometimes things like that happen.”
Irby added“It might get ugly, and it wouldn’t really change the outcome, but it would change the atmosphere and the patients would take notice. I can’t speak highly enough of their patience, professionalism and understanding of the situation. . They are fantastic. I can’t say it enough.”
This is the third time in recent months that St. Michael Medical Center has come under scrutiny. In October, the charge nurse, Kelsay Irby, called dispatchers to Kitsap 911 via an official backline.
“The nurse in charge of the interior of the emergency room called 911”, said Central Kitsap Fire and Lifesaving Chief Jay Christian. “The nurse in charge said twice, ‘we are drowning’, indicating that they only had five nurses on duty and 45 patients in their waiting room, and she was asking for help from the local fire department to come to work inside the ER to help relieve some of that pressure.
After the 911 incident garnered national attention, the hospital received a “preliminary denial of accreditation.” St. Michael’s Medical Center could lose accreditation after more than 30 standards are found to be non-compliant, according to a quality control report filed on September 6, following an on-site investigation.
According to reportstandards found to be non-compliant ranged from “building and fire protection features” to “hospital administers medication safely” and “hospital inspects, tests and maintains medical equipment”.
“Although there was no discovery of adverse patient harm, we immediately developed and implemented an action plan to address any potential concerns, which was accepted by the Joint Commission,” said said Melton. said. “Following the action plan, St. Michael’s Medical Center has been cleared through an initial on-site investigation and we are in the process of receiving final clearance for full accreditation.”