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Salem Health ED again keeps Mother Nature at bay

08 Jul 2018

A Tale of Two Storms from your ED nurse manager

By: Nancy Bee, RN, nurse manager, Salem Hospital emergency department

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On June 4, 2009, a storm blew through the Willamette Valley. The winds shifted, and as some looked for Mary Poppins to land, many others suffered severe respiratory symptoms. The valley emergency departments were flooded with patients, and many EDs in Portland had to set up tents outside their doors to serve the masses of patients.

In the Salem Hospital ED, we shattered our average daily census of 250 patients per day by seeing 372 patients that day. Over 50 percent of the patients arrived between 4 p.m. and midnight. We had a left without being seen rate on that day of 8.87 percent. It was an amazing day of teamwork with too many heroes to name. Yet, as with most amazing stories with happy endings, it called for a sequel.

On Monday, June 18, 2018, Mary Poppins may have been attempting to land once more, but no one at ED had time to look. Thunder, lightning and wind whipped up pollen that had previously settled, and the team once again rose to meet the masses. From 8 p.m. on June 17 to 6 a.m. on June 18, 162 patients checked into the ED. Once again, 50 percent of the patients presented with respiratory symptoms - many in severe distress.

Bordering on a code triage, the team responded to the acute needs in the ED with no less than six nurses arriving to help in any way they could to care for patients. The ED staff problem-solved rapidly as they lined up oxygen tanks, albuterol and patients to start respiratory treatments to everyone arriving with this need. Teams quickly formed to care for the patients in severe distress who were rushed back to a room, in need of expert medicine. Many staff and providers stayed late or came in early in order to successfully meet the immense need.

The numbers highlight the success: The daily ED census on June 18 was 381 patients, and this time with an LWBS of only 3.15 percent! Furthermore, most inpatient units ended the day at 100 percent occupancy.

The professional camaraderie among SHED staff and providers was palpable in the ED. The smiles and sweat of those literally running from case to case, were never-ending. Everyone gave 100 percent.

Thank you, ED staff and providers for working so hard, expertly and calmly.

Thank you, respiratory therapy for all the oxygen and expertise you deliver so graciously.

Thank you, pharmacy for the never-ending supply of albuterol. (We’re grateful we didn’t run out!)

Thank you, imaging for the hundreds of X-rays.

Thank you, lab for running all the labs, many during your busiest time of morning rounds.

Thank you, all inpatient units for supporting us with staff either coming to the ED or picking up work to free staff to come to the ED.

Thank you, EVS for frantically cleaning ED and inpatient rooms providing clean spaces for our community to receive care.

Thank you, Transport for helping us move patients and equipment in timely fashion.

Thank you, Security for keeping the facility and staff safe while we greeted the masses of patients.

Thank you, Salem Health for once again being the best place to work!