100 Years, 100 Stories


Hannah Wise

Hannah Wise
Virginia Mason Seattle

“I started working for Virginia Mason in the Ophthalmology department in March 2017. In less than six weeks, I became a patient myself and saw all the ins and outs of the hospital. For six months prior to that, I had a persistent cough that started when I was eight months pregnant with my daughter. I was told then that I had acid reflux, which was causing my cough. My symptoms improved after my daughter was born, but by April the cough returned with a vengeance. In late April 2017, my cough had become so bad that I was coughing up blood. By 4 pm, I thought I should see someone before I went home. I took the elevator up to General Internal Medicine and asked if any provider could see me. A triage nurse brought me into a room and I showed her the pictures of the blood I had expelled. She sent me straight to the Emergency Department and did not let me talk her out of it. I walked myself to Jones Level 7 and they immediately got me in for a CT scan. I was diagnosed with a carcinoid tumor that was completely occluding my left lung. I was an otherwise healthy 26-year-old so this came completely out of left field. I was admitted and the next day I met Dr. Hubka, who later removed the tumor and did my partial lobectomy a few months later. I was already impressed by Virginia Mason’s reputation, which is what attracted me to the job. But after becoming a patient myself, I am so proud to be a part of this amazing organization that is saving lives, mine included.”


James Tate Mason
James Tate Mason Sr., MD

Virginia Mason Co-founder James Tate Mason Sr., MD
 
(Excerpted from the book, “Vision and Vigilance: The First 75 years, Virginia Mason Medical Center, 1920-1995”)

Dr. Mason was born May 20, 1882 in Lahore, Va., the son of a physician who had served the Confederacy under Stonewall Jackson. His mother was the daughter of a prominent Virginia colonial family. At 14, he entered the Locust-vale Military Academy, where he distinguished himself more on the baseball field than in the classroom. In 1901, he entered the University of Virginia Medical School and graduated in 1905 as one of the most popular students in his class. After medical school, he spent two years at the Philadelphia Polyclinic (the post-graduate school of the University of Pennsylvania) followed by serving as a resident at the Municipal Hospital of Philadelphia for the treatment of contagious diseases. In 1907, with his internships completed, he signed on as a ship’s surgeon aboard a steamship bound for Seattle by way of Cape Horn. The position offered $100 and a return railroad ticket home. However, he never used the ticket home. Arriving in Seattle in mid-summer with $50, he liked what he saw of the Pacific Northwest and, within two weeks, was hired as company surgeon – at the age of 25 – for a coal company in Black Diamond, Wash. In 1909, he returned to Seattle to practice there. Within a few months, he welcomed the opportunity to become physician to the county jail. He was married in 1911 and in 1913 he and his wife, Laura, welcomed the first of their three children. In the next few years, Dr. Mason earned the respect of his patients as well as the city’s business and political leaders. He was elected coroner of King County and organized an Anatomical Club with his colleagues, which later merged with the Seattle Surgical Society. From 1914 to 1920, he was superintendent and surgeon of the King County Hospital. And in 1917, he organized a partnership with five doctors and two associates to form the Mason-Blackford-Dwyer Clinic, which would eventually become Virginia Mason Medical Center.

 


Fred Savaglio

Fred Savaglio
Virginia Mason Seattle

“I have a lot of stories about wonderful experiences at Virginia Mason. As an example, a very moving story was in the aftermath of the Hudson Arms fire when the six or seven evacuated residents were gazing up at the apartments they could not return to. Among them were three who owned cats which, at that time, may have been lost during the fire or fire department operations. Eventually, we were able to gain permission for Virginia Mason engineers to go in and look for the cats. About 45 minutes later, the three engineers came out and each was holding an agitated cat. The residents were emotionally drained and a lot of tears flowed. A second memorable story that night was when the residents were being processed by the Red Cross to shelters where they would remain until other more permanent housing could be found. Prior to the Red Cross transport, it became known that each resident had medications they would need that night. Nancy Hendler was on scene and she patiently took each resident’s medical history and with her Nurse Practitioner’s prescriptive authority wrote all the scripts they would need for the coming days. The Red Cross then went out got those prescriptions filled. So, many times Virginia Mason staff have stood strong in tough situations. I think of so many unsung heroes and heroines. Although their names have long left my memory, I was very moved each time team members came through. These are a couple of the fond memories about Virginia Mason that I wanted to share.”


Candice Duncan-Gjertsen
Virginia Mason

“I was born on Sept. 25, 1959 and delivered by Dr. William Topp. He knew my parents wanted to adopt and he knew another patient who wanted to give me up for adoption. The rest is history!”


Anna Fraser

Anna J. Fraser, RN – First hospital and nursing service superintendent
Virginia Mason

(Excerpted from the book, “Vision and Vigilance: The First 75 years, Virginia Mason Medical Center, 1920-1995”)

Anna Fraser, RN, graduated from Saint Joseph’s School of Nursing in Tacoma. She worked for Dr. James Tate Mason in 1918 and joined him and his associates when Virginia Mason Hospital was founded in 1920. She held the position of superintendent of the hospital and nursing service until her retirement in 1944.

It was a proud Fraser who enrolled three students in the Virginia Mason Hospital School of Nursing in 1921 and made arrangements for their graduation on May 7, 1925. Each succeeding year, the graduating class increased in size.

Fraser was referred to as a superintendent of nurses who guided with tenacity of purpose and disciplined a modest (nursing) family of her own.

In 1929, students were first taught by professors from Seattle College and in 1936 the Student Body Association was organized. The first capping ceremony for students of the Virginia Mason Hospital School of Nursing was held in January 1938. In 1946, the ceremony moved to Blackford Hall and continued every year until the training program combined with the baccalaureate nursing program at the University of Washington School of Nursing in 1957.

Fraser was loved and admired by the students. After a 26-year career at Virginia Mason, she retired from the well-organized and fast developing nursing training school and growing, 150-bed hospital.

In appreciation for her countless contributions to the training program, the school library was named in her honor by the alumnae and students in May 1950.

 


Elizabeth Braun
Virginia Mason

“I have had the delight and honor of both working for Virginia Mason and being a patient since 1988. I have watched the organization add or replace numerous clinics and hospital additions. The buildings are my children. Designing, building and watching them evolve has been tremendously satisfying. The care is what excites me about coming to work every day! I have watched as my family’s lives, and my own life, were literally saved several times because of our outstanding care. I know this comes from our commitment to being the quality leader, and the creativity and devotion of the staff. Thank you all!”

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Laura Jeffs and Grief Services

Laura Jeffs
Virginia Mason Seattle

“Founded in 1984 by Virginia Mason’s first psychiatrist, Ted Rynearson, MD, and Jacki Meurk, former board member, the Separation and Loss (Grief Services) department offers individual and group support to sudden, traumatic death (homicide, suicide, accident, overdose and illness) survivors using Dr. Ted Rynearson’s Restorative Retelling model. Dr. Rynearson literally “knocked on doors” at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, to share about the services to be offered and request grant funding to support the program. Partially funded since 1998 through a DOJ crime victim service grant, the team has expanded services to include: critical incident debriefs within Virginia Mason and in the community; Restorative Retelling Facilitator trainings; regional and national trainings on traumatic death and related topics; and consultation. Several group intervention outcome studies have been published, and Dr. Rynearson won the Association of Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) researcher of the year award in 2013. He has consulted with Israeli and Palestinian clinicians on the model, as well as with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The small team of Laura Takacs, Laura Jeffs and Dr. Ted Rynearson is grateful to Virginia Mason for its ongoing support.”


John M. Blackford, MD
John M. Blackford, MD

Virginia Mason Co-founder John Minor Blackford, MD

(Excerpted from the book, “Vision and Vigilance: The First 75 years, Virginia Mason Medical Center, 1920-1995”)

In 1917, Dr. Blackford was practicing medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. when Dr. Mason – who was attending a medical conference at Mayo – met him. The two became fast friends and Dr. Mason then asked Dr. Blackford to join him in practice in Seattle. Dr. Blackford had been active in research in cardiology and diseases of the thyroid gland at the Mayo Clinic and later, high blood pressure and gastroenterology. He participated in the installation at Virginia Mason of the first electrocardiograph machine west of the Mississippi River. He performed clinical research while in practice and presented a number of original articles to medial organizations, especially in the field of gastroenterology. He also encouraged members of the medical staff, especially younger physicians, to become involved in clinical research and present papers whenever possible. Dr. Blackford was a large and friendly man who enjoyed a host of friends, both inside and outside the medical profession. He inspired a confidence in others and developed a large practice involving many community leaders. He enjoyed the respect of his medical colleagues and was often called in consultation for medical problems. He was a genius at analyzing the problems of patients and always added something to the diagnosis. Dr. Blackford was a husband, father of three as well as an ardent bridge player and yachtsman. He was very proud of his yacht that bore the name of his youngest daughter, Sally Bruce. He was an inveterate smoker of cigarettes and always kept a tin of fifty cigarettes in his pocket. He had a particular type of cigarette cough which, at times, was severe enough to render him temporarily to lose consciousness. His peers felt that his cigarette smoking probably contributed to his death from pneumonia.

 


Eileen Dunning
Virginia Mason Seattle

“As a proud Virginia Mason retiree, I’ve recommended the health system to a number of people, including three family members, friends and several people from my church. Sometimes it’s been a matter of helping them find a provider who I view as exceptional and other times it’s been something that required more immediate attention. Regardless, Virginia Mason has never disappointed. 

A person very close to me had a myocardial infarction and was deciding between having it stented versus bypass surgery. Although she had been a longtime patient of another Seattle-based health system, I persuaded her to obtain a second opinion from Virginia Mason interventional cardiologist Wayne Hwang, MD. Dr. Hwang discovered a blocked carotid artery, which had gone overlooked where my friend had previously been seen. She decided to have carotid artery and coronary artery bypass surgeries at Virginia Mason. My friend, her family and I were so pleased with the medical and nursing care she received. A few years later, my friend developed unrelated, acute complications and died in the Critical Care Unit at Virginia Mason. Her care could not have been better and was provided with incredible compassion and respect for her family.

I am always incredibly proud to recommend Virginia Mason to people I care about. I respect the expertise that I know the health system seeks and maintains among their providers. I also respect the expertise of the nurses and other professionals caring for patients.”


John Knab
Virginia Mason Seattle

“I remember being in the operating room one evening as a third or fourth year Virginia Mason anesthesia resident in 1996 or 1997. As I looked at the anesthesia machine, it began to wobble and shake, and I thought maybe I was inhaling too much sevoflurane. Then, as things began to shake throughout the room, including my colleagues and the patient, I realized that we were in the middle of an earthquake. My first and only!”


Harold Dill

Harold Dill
Virginia Mason Seattle

“My first introduction to Virginia Mason was in early 1959. I had just come out of military service and was hired by Northern Commercial Co., which had numerous stores in remote locations of Alaska. Each of their managers being sent north had to pass a physical examination administered by Virginia Mason. In subsequent years, it became an annual event as we all returned to Seattle for our managers meetings. My physician was Dr. Randolph Pillow. I will never forget him. I was so impressed with his patient skills and medical knowledge. He was my hero for many, many years.”


Virginia Mason Hospital

Why build a hospital?

(Excerpted from the book, “Vision and Vigilance: The First 75 years, Virginia Mason Medical Center, 1920-1995”)

In part, the Mason-Blackford-Dwyer Clinic group’s urgency to build a hospital was fueled by the great influenza epidemic of 1918-1919 (the “Spanish flu” pandemic), which demonstrated a serious shortage of hospital beds in Seattle. But the underlying reason was that Dr. Mason and his colleagues wanted to have the freedom to develop a new style of medicine patterned after the fast-growing Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. What they planned was a combination of a privately owned hospital and a group practice of specialty trained physicians – a medical center of a scope and quality available nowhere else in the West. Group practice was frowned upon by traditional physicians of the time. In those days, it was only acceptable for physicians to be in solo practice.

The hospital they envisioned would house modern laboratory and X-ray facilities, surgery and delivery rooms as well as sufficient space for 80 inpatient beds. The main floor would have private offices for clinic doctors. The whole organization would be operated under joint management of the clinic and hospital.

Months before, in discussions with his friend, Dan Kelleher, president of the Seattle National Bank (later Seafirst and now Bank of America), Dr. Mason had revealed his idea of the combined hospital and clinic facility. Kelleher replied, “Go ahead, Tate. I will see you through,” which was a statement that would prove to be prophetic.

The dream began to take form from there. Plans were developed in 1919 and the hospital site was chosen. A corporation was formed and bonds were purchased by clinic doctors and others, which provided money to begin construction.

 


 

Anonymous
Virginia Mason Seattle

“In October 2015, I was admitted into the Emergency Department with a .39 BAL (bioartificial liver). A severe, late-stage alcoholic at the age of 36. In full restraints (which was necessary after an attempt to run), one of the patient care technicians (PCT) was assigned to sit watch at my door. During my stay, she talked to me, not at me. She didn’t judge me. She got to know me as a person, not an addict. Turns out she was the mother of one of my son’s friends, who had spent many after-school hours in my home. She volunteered to work a double shift so she could stay with me. She arranged for my friend, who was a new mom and nursing, to have access to a breast pump. When my friend realized she had taken the car keys with her, leaving her husband stranded without car seats for three kids, my PCT drove to my friend’s house and dropped off the keys at the end of her shift. The kindness, compassion and understanding she gave has stayed with me. She is a part of my journey into a life of recovery where, in October 2019, I will celebrate four years clean and sober. When I was at my jumping-off point, as low as I could get, she showed me grace and compassion.”


Melissa Jackson Witek
Virginia Mason Bainbridge Island, Virginia Mason Kirkland and Virginia Mason Seattle

“Late at night and with our 10-month-old daughter in tow, my husband rushed me to the Virginia Mason Emergency Department on First Hill in Seattle. I had just been told by my optometrist at Virginia Mason Kirkland, who I had seen for a retinal hemorrhage, that my blood work indicated I had leukemia. I was in acute distress and had serious symptoms related to an extremely elevated white blood count. Sometimes the best things happen at the worst of times. Dr. David Aboulafia happened to be the oncologist on call that night. That was almost 20 years ago. With kindness, a gentle bedside manner, and a medical knowledge beyond compare, Dr. Aboulafia has seen me through a bone marrow transplant, several serious post-transplant infections and complications, five joint replacements, several eye surgeries, and the long-term side effects of my treatment. He has coordinated my care with other Virginia Mason departments, as well as with the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, where I had my transplant. I remember a nurse in the Emergency Department that night telling me that my baby girl was my reason to live. Because of Dr. Aboulafia and great care from the entire team at Virginia Mason, I am excited to celebrate my daughter’s 21st birthday with her later this year!”

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Virginia Mason

“The real story of how the hospital was named,”
according to Virginia Mason Blackford Morris

Miss Virginia Mason raised Virginia Blackford’s grandmother, because her grandmother’s mother had died; Miss Virginia Mason was her grandmother’s aunt.

When John Blackford was born, it was not considered proper for “the boys” to potentially “hear something” related to a woman in labor. So his mother was put in a carriage and driven 2 miles down the road to Miss Virginia Mason’s house, and that’s where he was born.

Later he roomed with her while at the University of Virginia; she ran a boarding house for medical students. So, as his great aunt, surrogate grandmother, she had a great bearing on his life, and his mother’s life, which is why he named his daughter after her, Virginia Mason Blackford.

When the two mothers, Mrs. Tate Mason and Mrs. John Blackford, were together one evening while the doctors were down polishing the floors before the hospital opened, they were discussing what a coincidence it was that there were two girls with the same name. (The other Virginia Mason was supposedly named after the state of Virginia.) So the two mothers decided this would be the perfect name for the hospital.

Recorded Sept. 25, 1996 with the Virginia Mason Historical Society.

 


 

Peggy Nystrom
Virginia Mason Seattle

“I was born at Virginia Mason in 1945 and both of my children were also born there. The first on April 27, 1966 and the second on Oct. 24, 1969. The same doctor who delivered me, Dr. Rutherford, also delivered my two sons.”


 


Jessica Entz

Jessica Entz
Virginia Mason Bellevue, Virginia Mason Federal Way and Virginia Mason Seattle

“I have been coming to Virginia Mason for more than a decade. I am honored to say that it is my home away from home. I have had multiple sclerosis since I was in eighth grade. Dr. Kita and her staff are like family to me. I trust them with my life. Her knowledge and commitment to me – as a patient, granddaughter, daughter, sister, niece, cousin and friend to many – means so much!”

 


 

James Tate Mason, MD
James Tate Mason, MD

Needs of the patient must always come first

(Excerpted from the book, “Vision and Vigilance: The First 75 years, Virginia Mason Medical Center, 1920-1995”)

There is a story about Virginia Mason co-founder James Tate Mason Sr, MD, that was passed down through the hospital’s administrative ranks over the years. Dr. Mason allegedly kept a jar of pennies and other change on the mantle of his fireplace at his home in Black Diamond, Wash., where he was employed as the doctor for a coal company at age 25 between 1907-1909. The jar contained some of the money local coal miners and their families had paid him for taking care of them. He kept the jar there as a reminder of just how poor and needy some of his patients were. The message to administrators was that the needs of the patient must always come first and that “pocketbook needs” are secondary.

 


 

Pam Salvatore
Virginia Mason Seattle

“Dec. 4, 1986 was a popular day to have a baby! When I showed up at 2 a.m. at the front desk of Virginia Mason’s delivery unit, I was breathing hard and in active labor. I soon learned that every birthing room was occupied. There were no empty beds! This was a problem since I was 9 cm dilated and well on the way to having my first baby. Thanks to some quick, creative thinking by the nurses, a convertible chair-bed was moved from one of the birthing rooms into the unit’s linen room, which was transformed into my own personal birthing suite. At first, I was disheartened that I wouldn’t get to enjoy a Jacuzzi tub or birthing bed that I had seen during my pre-birth tour several weeks earlier. But as I got settled into the linen room, I was surprisingly comforted by my surroundings. All around me were crisp, white, clean linens – towels, washcloths, sheets and blankets – all neatly folded and stacked, unlike the ones in my home. I felt very safe, cozy and comfortable amidst all those linens. But the most wonderful thing in laboring away and giving birth to my son in that linen room was the view from its window. I had a clear view of The Bon Marche’s holiday star, which was illuminated on top of the building, as well as a view of the neon “S” on top of the Sheraton Hotel. Together, they provided the best focal points I could have imagined. When my son was born, I named him Sam and gained a wonderful story to tell him of how he was born in a linen room with a view of the holiday star and the first letter of his name. I couldn’t have been happier!”


Julie McAferty
Virginia Mason Seattle

“I started working at Virginia Mason in 1989 as a newly graduated RN and loved it. I really appreciated all my mentors and have many great memories of my time there. One very memorable experience occurred when I was involved with a c-section as a night-shift circulating nurse. As I helped the patient recover, my contractions began getting stronger. After finally telling my co-workers, I was admitted at 5 cm dilated and had my baby before the end of my shift!”


 

Dr. John Blackford
John M. Blackford, MD

Racing to catch a ferry

(Excerpted from the book, “Vision and Vigilance: The First 75 years, Virginia Mason Medical Center, 1920-1995”)

“One story about Dr. John Blackford was the afternoon he was racing down Seneca Street to catch a Puget Sound ferry. He noted that the car behind him was also going very fast. Dr. Blackford figured that the car behind him was trying to catch the same ferry. Once onboard, Dr. Blackford, as a Good Samaritan, persuaded the ferry attendant to hold the ferry for the arrival of the car behind him. The car boarded and a Seattle Police officer got out and ticketed him for speeding.” – Thomas Carlile, MD, emeritus physician (radiology) and past president of the American Cancer Society

 

 

 

 

 


 

Nancy Lyons
Nancy Lyons>
Birthing Center

Nancy Lyons
Virginia Mason Seattle

“I was director of Virginia Mason’s Birth Center in the Spring of 1988 and we had just remodeled the Labor, Delivery, Recovery, Postpartum (LDRP) rooms. I received approval to purchase portable, easy-entry whirlpool tubs, which featured a side door that opened for a wheelchair transfer or for a pregnant woman to easily step into the tub. They were also appropriate from an infection-control perspective since they allowed for an antiseptic to thoroughly clean the entire system of water jets. As part of my job, I also led prenatal tours and, as a result, was very familiar with how to operate the tubs. On June 28, 1988, I was in labor at Virginia Mason with my second child. Since I had advocated for purchasing the tubs, I wanted to try them so I could tell other women what it was like to relax in them during labor. So, I got in the tub, tilted it back with the lever and filled it with water. After less than 10 minutes of enjoying the tub, I knew I had to immediately get out to have my baby. I pushed the lever forward to tilt the tub – and all of the water – forward. However, in my rush, I forgot to pull the plug and allow the water to drain, which resulted in a rush of water spilling onto the tile floor. I began yelling at my husband to clean up the mess with towels before the nurse arrived. I was so embarrassed that I hadn’t sufficiently drained the tub before tilting it forward and opening the side door. My daughter, Sally, was born minutes later! Needless to say, after resuming my prenatal tour duties, I warned other women to be sure to pull the drain plug and allow time for the water to drain before exiting the tub. Those tubs were a popular item in our LDRPs until we closed the unit in the Fall of 1996.”

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Teresa DeMarce
Virginia Mason Seattle

“I was born at Seattle’s Doctors Hospital in 1957. Since I had never heard of it, I researched the history of Doctor’s Hospital and learned that Virginia Mason was literally attached to it many years ago. So, when I went to First Hill recently, I located where that part of Virginia Mason was attached to Doctor’s Hospital way back when. Congratulations on your centennial, Virginia Mason!”


Kratz-family.jpgCaroline Kratz
Virginia Mason Seattle

"My mom and dad met at Virginia Mason in 1981. She was a pharmacy technician and he was an engineer helping to install the new intravenous therapy room. They went on some of their first dates in the hospital cafeteria. One thing led to another and, in 1983, my parents got married. As my dad continued to work at Virginia Mason, our family began to grow until there were four of us. I am the youngest. Every December, just before Christmas, we would come pick my dad up in the turnaround off of Seneca Street so we could take our Santa picture downtown. As we waited, I can remember thinking that my dad worked at the best hospital in the city! It was pure magic coming downtown around that time of year with all the lights and decor around Seattle and the hospital. I recall watching doctors, nurses and patients walk across the sky bridge and wondered if I would be there someday, treating patients in the heart of the city. In 2005, my older brother Larry Jr. joined Virginia Mason as a patient transporter and eventually worked his way into the Engineering department. In 2006, my other brother, Chris, began volunteering in the hospital during high school, and in 2018, he was hired as a perioperative equipment technician. In 2015, I joined the Sports Medicine Department as a physical therapy aide. Since then, I was recently accepted into physical therapy assistant school and have begun pursuing the next big step in my career, Feb. 14, 2020 was the last day that my dad, my brothers and I worked together at the hospital. Virginia Mason has always been a place that is truly like home for our family and it holds a big place in each one of our hearts!"


Contract medicine

(Excerpted from the book, “Vision and Vigilance: The First 75 years, Virginia Mason Medical Center, 1920-1995”)

As the Mason Clinic and Virginia Mason Hospital began its second decade of existence, it appeared to be a thriving health care organization in Seattle. But those early days of prosperity soon began to evaporate as the Great Depression swept throughout the country. The clinic doctors met this crisis with an innovation that made economic sense. Since the beginning of their practice, the clinic doctors had contracted to provide medical care to the employees of various organizations. Now, they began seeking out more prepaid medical contracts with large corporations. As a result, contacts were written with the Boeing Airplane Company, American Mail Lines, Rhodes Department Store, Frederick & Nelson, the US Post Office and the Seattle Police Department. This was one of the earliest prepaid medical plans in the Pacific Northwest. The contracts were finally transferred to the King County Medical Service Corporation when its Medical Service Bureau was founded in 1934, which were King County Medical’s first contracts.

 


 

Victoria Gempesaw
Virginia Mason Seattle

“I was born at Virginia Mason almost 25 years ago and it’s also where my parents met. I have seen how much of an impact my mom makes here on a day-to-day basis, so I started to volunteer here at the age of 18. It was shortly after when I continued my service as a volunteer in Administration, then on Jones 18, and now the Outpatient Infusion Center. As a pre-nursing student who hopes to become an RN one day, I am employed as a patient care technician (PCT) in Med-Surg and have had a miraculous experience with the nurses, PCTs, staff and patients here. It has been a huge transition, but the leadership here has been so amazing with their support and guidance. I truly believe that Virginia Mason is one of the top hospitals here in Seattle and I’m so proud to be part of it!”


Tracey Croisier
Virginia Mason Seattle

“In March 2017, I had a heart attack and was diagnosed with a rare congenital heart blockage. The doctor that found the blockage insisted the blockage was not causing my chest pain. So, I ended up flying to Stanford for a new surgery to fix the problem. I clearly needed a new cardiologist and luckily found Dr. Drew Baldwin. I have had several post-op complications and Dr. Baldwin has attentively tended to me with compassion and thoroughness. Also, David Cowan in Cardiac Rehab was instrumental in getting me back to exercising without fear. I had the odd luck of visiting five hospitals in 12 months. Virginia Mason and Stanford are head and shoulders above the rest. In addition to great bedside service and medical professionals that take heart problems seriously, Dr. Baldwin said he was happy to refer another patient to the surgeon at Stanford. He had also thought congenital heart blockages were only treatable with medication and said he was so impressed with how Stanford healed my blockage that he was glad he could refer out. How often do doctors thank patients? Almost never.”


 

Ties to Alaska

(Excerpted from the book, “Vision and Vigilance: The First 75 years, Virginia Mason Medical Center, 1920-1995”)

During the Great Depression years, various factors helped the Mason Clinic’s reputation grow as a specialty group practice and diagnostic center. For example, many companies that were sending employees to Alaska arranged for thorough diagnostic workups at Virginia Mason. Through the years, strong ties between Virginia Mason Hospital and small communities in The Last Frontier developed, many of which remain today. These relationships were furthered by the fact that numerous physicians who trained at Virginia Mason ultimately went to Alaska to practice, which resulted in many referring complicated cases to the hospital and clinic doctors.

 


 

Tina Boyd
Virginia Mason Seattle

“I had my son Victor at Virginia Mason 34 years ago in 1985. I still remember the fancy dinner that was served to parents afterwards. It was steak and lobster! I love to tell that story, even today. I have wonderful memories of the birth of my child. The staff at Virginia Mason were always polite and friendly. They would bring my baby in for a feeding and then take him back to the nursery so I could sleep. I hear things are much different today. A year ago, I happened to walk through the unit and pass by where the nursery use to be. It almost brought me to tears. I could not have chosen a better place to have my one and only son.”


Randi Anderson
Virginia Mason Federal Way, Virginia Mason Kirkland and Virginia Mason Seattle

“Although I was not born at Virginia Mason (my husband was, though!), all of my pediatric care was at Virginia Mason Kirkland. So, for as far back as I can remember, Virginia Mason was synonymous with my health and wellbeing. My whole family had all of their care at Virginia Mason. So, naturally, when I was a teenager and needed shoulder surgery, we sought care there. I did all my shoulder rehab at Virginia Mason, which was such an awesome experience that I decided it’s what I needed to do as a career. I went off to college but returned to Virginia Mason to complete a 400-hour, unpaid internship for my bachelor’s degree. After graduating, I called the clinic where I had completed my internship (Sports Medicine), asked for a job and was hired! That was in 2004. Since then, I have worked in Sports Medicine, the Kaizen Promotion Office, in leadership at the Federal Way and Seattle clinics, and now in leadership at the Jones Learning Center. Since my kids receive all their care at Virginia Mason, the story will start anew!”

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Virginia Mason School of Nursing

(Excerpted from the book, “Vision and Vigilance: The First 75 years, Virginia Mason Medical Center, 1920-1995”)

Between 1925 and 1952, 579 nursing students graduated from the hospital’s nursing school. In 1957, the school was assimilated by the University of Washington’s program as it became difficult for Virginia Mason to finance the nursing education program. “Probies,” as the entering students were called, lived in an old house on Spring Street. The students lived on the first two floors. There were two bathrooms shared by all. Students were not allowed to address each other by first names while on duty and the hours of study and work were long. It wasn’t until 1946 that the new nursing school residency hall – named Blackford Hall – was completed, which was an event welcomed by all. (In 1956, Blackford Hall was converted to the Research center.) In 1940, nursing students began wearing a plain white uniform. Nursing caps were mandatory and fines were levied if students showed up without one. Discipline was intense in other areas as well. Students were required to stand whenever a physician or senior nurse entered the room. Pay was $10 per month, which increased slightly to $15 per month during World War II. The capping ceremony took place after three to six months and was a very formal affair, which was often held at the Women’s University Club. At graduation, Dr. Mason or a member of his family would present a red rose to each student – a tradition that meant much to all.

 


  

Penny Zefkeles
Virginia Mason

“Every Virginia Mason location and doctor has provided me with the best care – from Dr. Teng, who made house calls; to primary care from Dr. Trigg, who learned all my health and personal matters; and now with Drs. Kita and Peng helping me with my recently diagnosed multiple sclerosis. I feel very lucky to have been cared for by them all. Virginia Mason is a great medical center. I feel blessed!”


Dennis O'Loane
Virginia Mason Kirkland

“I have been a patient at Virginia Mason Kirkland Medical Center since it opened. I was blessed to have been assigned to Dr. Kaplan as my physician. My care has always been exceptional, not only by the staff but thanks to Dr. Kaplan, as well. Virginia Mason also saved my life with outstanding cardiac care after a heart attack. I have been called an advocate for Virginia Mason during this time. I am very proud to be a Virginia Mason patient.”


Chris Stewart
Virginia Mason Seattle

“Virginia Mason has always been synonymous with family for me. Currently, there have been three generations of Stewarts that have worked, or are, working here. My mother-in-law, Diane Stewart, worked at Virginia Mason in the 70s as a Radiology Technician and head of Special Procedures under Dr. Burnett. When I moved to Seattle and was thinking about getting into health care, she mentioned Virginia Mason and lo and behold I ended up here more than 18 years ago. I could not imagine working anywhere else! My oldest daughter, Erin Stewart, recently graduated from college and asked for guidance on what to do next. I immediately referred her to Virginia Mason. She is currently working in the Insurance Billing and Follow-Up department and is loving it. She especially likes to attend Friday Report Outs and Virginia Mason Production System (VMPS) collaboratives to learn more about the ‘VMPS’ thing I have been talking about for the last many years.”


Bridget Frederick
Virginia Mason Seattle

“I was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease when I was newly married 25 years ago. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d need a kidney transplant, but my husband said it was that moment he knew he would be the one. In 2013, the unthinkable happened. My kidneys were failing fast and I was placed on dialysis and the transplant list. Several family members jumped in the donor program, but it was my husband, Rob, who – in the end – became my donor and saved my life. We were only the second transplant in Virginia Mason’s history, so we were told, to participate in both a donor and recipient no-blood transplant. It has been almost six years and we are both doing great and back to doing all the things we love while enjoying life. This is all thanks to the support of our family and the care, concern and dedication to details of my nephrologist, Dr. Thompson, and our transplant team: Drs. Kuhr and Kozlowski and the Transplant Center team.”


Bethany Suhn
Virginia Mason Seattle

“My entire nursing career has been here at Virginia Mason. From my very first clinical in nursing school, to my current role as assistant nurse manager, and all in Oncology. Fifteen years and counting. I can’t think of a better place to be!”


Sara Abernathy
Virginia Mason Federal Way and Virginia Mason Seattle

“I am a type 2 diabetic and end-stage renal failure patient. I am blind in my left eye and on dialysis. All of this means that I’m hospitalized a lot. Everyone at Virginia Mason – from patient care technicians to physicians – are a huge part of my life. Virginia Mason is my second home.  They are learning much from me. I hope my life and story are part of why Virginia Mason will be around in another 100 years collecting more stories of the lives they impact. I would like to use my life to change others’. If my life story can positively affect just one person, it’s worth it.  I am passionate about helping people live their best life. Thank you for keeping me alive!”


ICU patient inspires health care team

ICU patient inspires health care team

(Excerpted from Virginia Mason’s November 1989 Pulse newsletter)

“Incredible.” That’s how nurses in ICU describe 36-year-old patient Margie Clement, who spent five months on their unit. Clement was brought in May 6 with botulism, which caused total paralysis. As a result, Clement spent several months on a ventilator, receiving intravenous feedings. According to her nurses, it was Margie’s inner trust, strength and determination – as well as the support of her family – that enabled her to survive. The story has a happy ending. Clement finally left the ICU on Oct. 18, spent a short period of time in rehab, then returned home to her husband, Gary, and their three children in Sequim, Wash. Soon, she will resume all her former activities. On the day Clement left the ICU, her physicians – Drs. John Ravits and Richard Winterbauer – threw a party for Clement and the entire health care team that cared for her. Both physicians thanked everyone for pulling together so magnificently in caring for Clement. Claire Fisher, RN, summed up the feelings of many who had gotten to know Clement well. “For all the nurses, to see this person struggling and winning gave us all hope. She was just incredible.” Fisher, Susan Vitaljic, Melinda Eitscheid, Roxanne Tervola and Melanie VanderWeerd were primary nurses for Clemens.

 


 

Charles Karr
Virginia Mason Seattle

“I was born in the Virginia Mason Hospital in downtown Seattle on Oct. 8, 1929, which was nine years after it opened. All three of my sons were also born there, between 27-33 years later. I still use Virginia Mason Health System for all my medical needs and I'm now 90 years old. Congratulations to all of the many caregivers who have served us well over so many years.”


Duane Kesti
Virginia Mason Bainbridge Island and Virginia Mason Seattle

“If feeling that every person from the front desk to the procedure room cares and will do their best to help you get better matters, this is where you need to be. In comparison to other medical groups that I have had to deal with, this is so much better. I feel safe and confident that they are driven to do the best job possible. I hope Virginia Mason brings more of a presence to Kitsap County so the population here can have this kind of advantage in health care.”


Don Wehmann
Virginia Mason Seattle

“I was born at Virginia Mason 66 years ago while my father was a student at the University of Washington. I still have my primary care physician and several other specialty care doctors at Virginia Mason. My 66-year relationship with Virginia Mason is testament to how much it has cared for and impressed me over the last six decades.”


Come back soon for more great stories as we celebrate our centennial.
 

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