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.”


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.”


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 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.”


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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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!”

 


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!”


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!”


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.”


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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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!”


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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