COVID-19 Updates for Team Members

We are committed to keeping our team members informed and in the loop throughout our COVID-19 response. Check here regularly for the latest news and updates from Virginia Mason.

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July 31, 2020 Update

Dear team member,

We hope you and your family are keeping healthy and well.

This is our final update. When we started this newsletter in April, we were in the middle of a fast-and-furious COVID-19 response – and we wanted to make sure our team members on furlough were informed and in the loop. We’ve transitioned since then back to (almost) business as usual, and team members are partially or fully back to work.

So, at least for now, this is the last update we’ll send you. You may see future editions later in the year if COVID ramps back up again.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe, friend.

For Our Team Members

How sleep deprivation affects your health
We’re a sleep-deprived nation; according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study published in 2016, more than a third of U.S. adults don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis. VM's Brandon Peters-Mathews, MD, Sleep Medicine, is quoted in this article about how this issue can impact your overall health, and how can get your sleep schedule back on track.

30-Day Fitness Challenges
During times of change and crisis like we're living through now, it's important to take care of your mind and body. Consider taking on one of these 30-day fitness challenges to get you motivated and moving. Thirty-day challenges are doable – you can do almost anything for 30 days, including making your health a priority.

Family fitness challenges

Yoga challenges

Full body challenges

Ab challenges

Leg challenges

Upper body and arm challenges

Virginia Mason Updates

Virginia Mason Recognized by U.S. News and World Report

Virginia Mason is rated one of the best hospitals in the United States for quality in numerous specialties by U.S. News & World Report in its annual Best Hospitals survey released recently.

Among adult specialties nationally, it is ranked as high performing in:

  • Gastroenterology and GI surgery
  • Geriatrics
  • Neurology and neurosurgery
  • Orthopedics
  • Pulmonology and lung surgery
  • Urology

In addition, among common adult procedure and condition ratings, Virginia Mason is ranked as high performing in:

  • Aortic valve surgery
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Colon cancer surgery
  • Heart bypass surgery
  • Heart failure
  • Hip replacement
  • Knee replacement
  • Lung cancer surgery

The magazine also ranked Virginia Mason one of the best hospitals in Washington state and the Seattle metro area. This is the 11th straight year Virginia Mason has been recognized as one of the best hospitals in the region by U.S. News & World Report.

U.S. News & World Report has reported their Best Hospitals rankings for the last 31 years. The hard-earned quality rating information helps guide patients with life-threatening or rare conditions in how to make decisions about their health care.

"Please join me in congratulating the providers and other team members in our nationally ranked and high-performing specialties," said Gary S. Kaplan, MD, chairman and CEO. "This special recognition is the result of their focus on excellence and support of our vision to become the Quality Leader."

More detailed information about our rankings is posted at

Take Video Tour of New Bellevue Medical Center

The new Virginia Mason Bellevue Medical Center opened today in Wilburton Village, a modern retail development. The facility provides an array of primary and specialty medical services and surgical procedures, with plenty of free parking.

At 45,000 square feet, the new facility at 11695 N.E. 4th Street is twice the size of Virginia Mason's previous Bellevue location. It features a wide range of primary and specialty care services, including a full complement of radiological services five days a week; 32 clinic exam rooms; an outpatient surgery center with three operating suites and two procedure rooms; and more than 180 stalls for free parking. Also, there will be extended weekday hours and Saturday appointments. Virtual care video visits are available, in addition to in-person visits.

Because of COVID-19, there was no traditional open house event. However, we hope you will enjoy this video tour.

Virginia Mason Recognized for Cardiac Care

Virginia Mason has been recognized for excellence in percutaneous cardiac intervention (PCI), a non-surgical procedure that treats coronary artery disease by improving blood flow to the heart. Virginia Mason Heart Institute cardiologists use PCI to open coronary arteries that are narrowed or blocked by the buildup of plaque. PCI may also be used to relieve symptoms of coronary artery disease or reduce heart damage during or after a heart attack.

The medical center is designated as a top-performing PCI site in Washington state by the Foundation for Health Care Quality and Cardiac Care Outcomes Assessment Program (COAP). COAP Performance Recognition is awarded to hospitals that perform at or better than the state average on at least six of eight key quality indicators. Learn more.

Release the Kraken!

The NHL Seattle franchise announced it will be called the Seattle Kraken. About a year ago, Virginia Mason was introduced as a founding partner and the official health care provider for the team, and is building an outpatient medical facility at the franchise's Northgate Ice Centre that is scheduled to open in fall 2021.

"This is a fun moment for all of us, and we're proud to be part of the Seattle Kraken team," said Gary S. Kaplan, Chairman and CEO. "This is an important partnership, and it expands our work as a leading health care provider and resource. The team is so committed to the community, that it will allow us to partner with our community in new and innovative ways."

If you haven't seen it yet, the Kraken was released in this impressive video. Go Kraken!


Virginia Mason, CHI Explore Joint Operating Company


This is a challenging time in health care. Often challenges present new opportunities and that is the case for us. We have been talking with CHI Franciscan Health about combining the best of our two organizations to develop a transformative health system.

Read more about this subject here.

For Our Team Members

Virtual Care Victory

Telehealth visits between patients and doctors have become a very important option during the pandemic. And, these virtual check-ins can have some unexpected benefits, helping physicians diagnose issues that may not be obvious in the examination room.

Jillian Worth, MD, Virginia Mason Bainbridge Island, and her patient Katie Kuffel, are a great example. Katie, a professional cellist in Seattle, began experiencing numbness in her left hand – hardly an ideal development for someone who makes a living with her hands. The two were recently featured on KING-TV's New Day Northwest to share how the video visit may have actually been better than an in-person visit. Learn more.

Give Blood, Get a Cheeseburger

Bloodworks Northwest and STG Paramount Theatre have teamed up to host a pop-up donor center. If you donate blood through July 29 at the Paramount Theatre, you'll receive a gift certificate for Seattle’s famous Dick’s Drive-In Queen Anne location. Even better, donate by July 31 at any pop-up donor center, and you’ll be automatically entered into the Pump It Up Sweepstakes to win a Peloton in-home cycle.

All pop-up donor centers are safe, and being run in accordance with physical distancing guidelines. To make your appointment, visit or for other locations visit

Maintaining Your Financial Health

2019 study from the American Institute of Stress revealed that 62% of Americans felt stressed about money on a regular basis. This year, when we've all been impacted by a global pandemic, that number is probably much higher.

We know this is an important topic for our team members, as our community continues to struggle with tapering unemployment, the need for extended childcare if schools don’t open this fall and other economic issues.

We’ve highlighted a few things to think about when saving and spending in uncertain times.

Know what's necessary

In a difficult economic climate, your top priority is keeping yourself safe and focusing on the essentials. You may already be spending less because of COVID-19 restrictions – not taking as many impromptu trips to the store, driving less or just being generally more mindful of how you spend money. Even if that's the case, take time to assess and focus on what's important to your household, such as food, housing, core utilities, transportation and health care.

That way, you'll be prepared to absorb the shock if your household income goes down. And there's no harm if it doesn't. You'll be more financially healthy because you prepared for the worst and the storm passed you by.

Keep calm and stick to your financial plan

When times are tough, it may be tempting to consider taking money out of your retirement account or panic-selling stock to help make ends meet. In general, these actions should be a last resort. Using long-term accounts to fund short-term needs can lead to a more uncertain future. As much as possible, try not to sacrifice your financial security.

Ask for help if you need to

Many lenders, service providers and community organizations have programs in place for people facing financial difficulties. It's OK to ask for help if you need it. The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions has developed a list of financial resources for Washington residents impacted by the pandemic.

Tap into emergency savings as wisely – and as slowly – as possible

The economic shutdown that's been brought on by the COVID crisis has shed new light on the importance of emergency savings. As Forbes notes, “if you have savings to turn to during this crisis, you’re in a fortunate position. Yet that doesn’t mean you should dive right into those emergency funds without a plan. Yes, the COVID crisis may be exactly the type of occasion when it’s okay to draw money out of your savings or other accounts to meet current needs. Still, with the amount of uncertainty in the U.S. economy at this time, it’s important to tap your emergency funds as wisely—and as slowly—as possible.”

Find room for things that bring you joy

This may seem at odds with the advice above to focus only on what's necessary, but it's important to take time for yourself and even spend a few dollars on something that makes you happy. We're not talking about a huge splurge, just a little something that brings you joy. For your emotional wellbeing, you need to make sure you're taking care of yourself.

Prop up our community

If you're doing well financially, do what you can to invest in our community and local businesses. Order from local restaurants. Buy from the local store, even if it means paying a little more than at the national chains. Donate to local organizations helping to support those who have fallen on tough times. Finding ways to give back during the COVID-19 crisis can help lower your anxiety and stress, boost your mood and give you a sense of purpose during this difficult time.


Virginia Mason Updates

Benaroya Research Institute Receives Grants for COVID-19 Research

Benaroya Research Institute received four new COVID-19 research grants to study immune system response and build on nearly a dozen other COVID-19 research projects related to existing COVID-19 research happening at the Institution. The grants, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are more than $5.8 million dollars and leverage BRI's expertise in the immune system and its intersection with disease, which is central to understanding COVID-19.

"I am proud of BRI's rapid response to researching COVID-19," said BRI President Jane Buckner, MD. "Our vision is for a healthy immune system for every individual. As part of that work, we lend our immunology expertise and tools to help uncover answers to the COVID-19 puzzle ? why some people experience a more severe infection, to what underlying factors may dictate a worse infection."

Details for each new NIH-funded COVID-19 grant include:

  • One study that is part of a larger, national effort and examines the immune responses in people hospitalized with COVID-19 to uncover markers that may predict a more severe infection and for those recovering, more insights into an effective immune response.
  • Research that looks at the site of COVID-19 infection in lung tissue to identify ways to interrupt, slow or stop the infection.
  • A study on the overactive, inflammatory immune response that occurs in some very severe cases.
  • An examination of two strains of the virus ? circulating locally in Seattle ? and how each may lead to different immune responses and disease severity.

These new grants build upon a dozen other COVID-19 research efforts happening at BRI, a testament to BRI's agile infrastructure and strong clinical connections with Virginia Mason Health System, which allow it to quickly translate work from the lab to the clinic. The research teams at BRI are hopeful that their quick, collaborative work can yield new pathways for clinical solutions.


For Our Team Members

Annual Retirement Contribution Coming End of July
Virginia Mason makes an annual contribution to 401(a) retirement accounts, typically in April. Earlier this year, due to the financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, we let you know we were delaying the contribution to Oct. 15 or sooner.

We know the contribution is important to our team members, so we're pleased to let you know we're making it earlier than expected. If you are eligible, look for the contribution in your 401(a) account the last week of July. The amount you receive depends on how many years you've been with Virginia Mason, your 2019 earnings and the number of hours you worked last year.

Supporting Our COVID-19 Heroes at Virginia Mason – Free Virtual Event
The Virginia Mason Foundation would like to invite all Virginia Mason team members to our live virtual fundraising event, "Supporting Our COVID-19 Heroes," Thursday, July 30, at 5:30 p.m.

We have all worked tirelessly during this time of tremendous community need. COVID-19 has forced us to adjust so much about how patients seek health care and how we provide it during this crisis. Through a combination of hard work, commitment, adaptability and innovation, we have made sure the needs of our patients and our community come first, even in these difficult times.

Join us to celebrate our successes and share our extraordinary story with our community. To register please visit

Boost Your Wellbeing this Summer
This has been an unusually stressful year, to say the least, so make time this summer for your wellbeing. Here's a roundup of our favorite tips – consider it your summer prescription!

Emotional wellbeing

  • Laugh – a lot! Laughter is strong medicine, triggering healthy physical and emotional changes in your body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts your mood, diminishes pain and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. On the emotional side, it lightens your burdens, inspires hope and connects you to others. This summer, tell family-friendly jokes at your next get-together (virtual or otherwise) or stream a good comedy on TV. Laugh out loud and, dare we say it, have fun!
  • Ease stress with mindfulness. We often rush through life without stopping to notice much. Paying more attention to the present moment – to our thoughts and feelings, to the world around us – can improve our emotional wellbeing by helping us enjoy life more and understand ourselves better. This summer, take a few minutes each day, maybe when you wake up, to step outside and simply enjoy being in nature. Experience with fresh eyes things you may have been taking for granted – the green of the grass and trees, the feeling of a breeze on your skin, the birdsong around you.
  • Look up in wonder. Numerous studies have shown stargazing helps you feel more peaceful, relaxed and in awe of the natural world. Meditation expert Susan Kaiser Greenland says, "When we focus on the world above us, our bodies tend to relax, our minds tend to quiet and it's harder to get tangled up in our thoughts. This practice reminds us that even when emotions cloud it, there's a sky-like awareness within us and that wide-open awareness has enough space and clarity to hold whatever feelings, thoughts, reactions, biases and sensations come and go in our heads." Check out this beginner's guide to summer stargazing.

  • Practice gratitude. With all the swirl around us, sometimes it's hard to see any silver linings. This summer, step back, take a deep breath and practice gratitude. One of our favorite quotes from researcher Brené Brown is, "I don't have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness. It's right in front of me if I'm paying attention and practicing gratitude." Spend a few minutes each day, alone or with your loved ones, thinking of things you're thankful for. We all have many reasons to be grateful. What are yours?

Financial wellbeing

  • Take advantage of summer savings. Thanks to the pandemic, this may not be a typical summer, but we have good news – this is a great time to save money. Money-management expert Dave Ramsey shares 20 tips to help you pocket some extra cash this summer, from shopping smarter to DIY and more.

Physical wellbeing

  • Explore new foods. Summer is great for fresh-off-the-farm local foods. Expand your palate by trying new recipes that feature seasonal food you can't get year-round. (Safely) visit your local farmer's market for fresh ingredients or harvest your own garden delights at home. Take advantage of long, sunny evenings and fire up the grill. The Cooking Channel offers recipes for light summer dinners.
  • Get better rest. Those long, sunny days that are great for grilling (and exercising outside) may mean you stay up later than usual. And hot, sticky weather can also prevent you from falling into a deep sleep. Make your bedroom summer-friendly by keeping it cool with a fan or open window (experts recommend about 68 degrees Fahrenheit), hanging light-blocking curtains and relaxing before bed by putting away your phone and reading a few pages of a new novel. These steps will help you wake feeling bright and ready for the day ahead.
  • Plan your exercise. Write down a simple plan with three different types of workouts a week to help you feel good, become stronger, boost your energy and pump up your commitment and results. Need inspiration? Get 25 summer fitness tips straight from the experts.
  • Stay hydrated. We often neglect to get enough hydration in summer, which can affect our skin, mood and energy. Looking for something besides boring plain water? Try warm green tea with a pinch of turmeric, lemon and fresh ginger in the morning to cleanse your system and boost your energy for the day. Coconut water with a pinch of Himalayan rock salt will boost your electrolytes throughout the day. In the evening, wind down with some fresh mint and rose bud tea.

  • Safely soak up the sun. Sunshine is essential to boosting serotonin levels, building strong bones, healing some skin conditions and other benefits. Wearing sunscreen prevents sunburn, skin cancer and premature aging. Choose a sunscreen that protects from both UVA and UVB rays, preferably one with an SPF of 30 or higher. Check out all the sunscreen basics you were too afraid to ask.

Social wellbeing

  • Catch up with loved ones. This summer, double your wellbeing by spending time with loved ones and building deep, healthy relationships. Start a family garden, take a nature walk together, have a family cook-off or enjoy a double-feature movie night.
  • Play outdoors. We'll wrap up with 27 fun outdoor games you'll want to play all summer long – which takes us back to our first tip, laugh and have fun!

Virginia Mason Updates

New Bellevue Medical Center Opens July 27
The new Virginia Mason Bellevue Medical Center opens Monday, July 27, in Wilburton Village, a modern retail development. The facility will provide an array of primary and specialty medical services and surgical procedures, with plenty of free parking.


"The opening of our new facility in Bellevue is especially exciting news given the challenging year 2020 has been for our organization and team members," says Gary S. Kaplan, MD, chairman and CEO.

At 45,000 square feet, the new facility at 11695 N.E. 4th Street is twice the size of Virginia Mason's current Bellevue location. It will feature a wide range of primary and specialty care services, including a full complement of radiological services five days a week; 32 clinic exam rooms; an outpatient surgery center with three operating suites and two procedure rooms; and more than 180 stalls for free parking. Also, there will be extended weekday hours and Saturday appointments. Virtual care video visits will be available, in addition to in-person visits.

Our team will continue to see patients at the current Bellevue location, 222 112th Ave. N.E. through Thursday, July 23.

"While we are relocating to a new and larger location in Bellevue, the one thing that is not changing is our team's commitment to excellence that our patients know so well," says Shelly Powell, vice president, Patient Care Services.

Precautions implemented at Virginia Mason facilities to ensure a safe care environment for patients, visitors and our team members will be in effect at the new Bellevue Medical Center.

Medical services will include asthma and allergy care, behavioral health, cardiology, concierge medicine, dermatology, gastroenterology, gynecology, mammography, nephrology, neurology, non-surgical orthopedics, otolaryngology, pediatrics, physical therapy, physical medicine and rehabilitation, podiatry, primary care, radiological services, sleep evaluation and treatment, ultrasound and urology.

Surgery center services will include breast; colorectal; general; orthopedic; ear, nose and throat (ENT); and vascular surgeries, as well as gastroenterological, urologic, gynecology and interventional pain procedures.

Dear team member,

We hope you and your family are keeping healthy and well.

Over the past few months, we’ve heard from patients, their families and our community about their Virginia Mason experience. These words inspire, energize and drive us to prove Better Never Stops. We wanted to share one of these messages with you:

Dear Seattle Hospital Staff,

Thank you for the incredible and heroic work you and all nurses and doctors throughout the country are doing to keep our community safe. It makes me eternally grateful and gives me hope to know how hard people like you are working. I and my church are praying for you and your health in this difficult time.

With well wishes and hopes for better things ahead.


We look forward to welcoming you back soon. Stay safe!

For Our Team Members

Meaningful Family Memories

Connecting generations within your family is pure magic. When the whole family is involved in activities, you experience special moments that bind you together and build deep, healthy relationships. The activities don't have to be complicated – with a little bit of creativity and planning, you can turn family bonding into lasting memories.

Here are a few options for the entire family.

  • Start a family garden. Encourage everyone to get their hands dirty to plant flowers or vegetables. Work together to keep the garden weed-free, well-watered and healthy. Then enjoy the "fruits" of your labor!
  • Cook together. Preparing meals together can reinforce healthy cooking and eating habits, and it provides the perfect opportunity to turn a daily task into family ties. Set the mood for the meal with theme nights, such as Taco Tuesday.
  • Kick it up a notch with a family cook-off. If you have a family of would-be chefs who compete for top kitchen honors, make the contest official by staging a family cook-off. Form teams of different generations and give each team a basket of the same ingredients. Allow 10 minutes for teams to plan their dish. Set the clock for a reasonable amount of time to prep and cook the meals, then eat and critique based on taste, presentation and ease of preparation. If your family is competitive, ask a family member to be an impartial judge.
  • Take a family nature walk. Take a family stroll down a wooded trail, along a shoreline or through an urban park. Make sure to breathe in, let your body relax and look around at nature and each other.
  • Enjoy a family double-feature movie night. Ask a member of the older generation to share a classic movie they love, then a member of the younger generation to share one that speaks to them. After the movie, share your thoughts about what you just watched (for example, did you notice similarities between the movies?). Note: if your viewing party is virtual, try Netflix Party for Chrome, which lets you watch Netflix remotely with others by synchronizing playback and adding group chat.
  • Start a family book club. Take turns choosing a book, then pick a day to sit together (virtually, if needed) and talk about it. Or get inspired by one family, who took their book club online by creating a blog and inviting family members to respond to questions or post reviews.
  • Teach skills. Everyone has something they can teach, from the tech-savviness of communicating through video, to hands-on skills such as meditation, knitting or playing an instrument.

Practicing Optimism Can Benefit Wellbeing

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." – Winston Churchill

Those words have never been truer, given the long-term stress and anxiety of the current times. So the idea of "practicing optimism" may be difficult to imagine, but research shows it can combat feelings of anxiety and depression, and benefit our mental and physical wellbeing.

Optimism is the confidence that future events will turn out well. A hopefulness that good things are ahead. It's not just wishful thinking or "glass half full or glass half empty." True optimism is rooted in reality and honesty but looks at the future through a positive lens. If you are able to use a positive lens, negative events will likely be viewed as temporary setbacks – and may have a silver lining in lessons learned for the future – and positive events as a sign of further good things to come.

Optimists aren't just happier – they're also healthier than their pessimistic friends. Studies have proven that (among many other long- and short-term benefits) optimism improves the immune system, helps prevent chronic disease and gives us the emotional tools to cope with bad news and stressful situations.

Many of us aren't naturally optimistic. We have to choose optimism, and practice seeing things through an optimistic lens.

So how do we practice realistic optimism? There are many ways to build up optimism, including these actions from

  • Challenge negative thoughts: When you notice a negative thought, acknowledge it, be curious and ask questions. Where is this thought coming from? Is it true? Why am I having this thought now? If it is true, is there something I can do about it? If not, how am I going to let this thought control my life?
  • Remind yourself of past successes: Write down a list of things you've achieved in your life or career, no matter how big or small. When you're feeling negative, pull out this list to remind yourself of what you have accomplished and how hard you work.
  • Ask yourself positive questions: You can change your view of a situation by asking yourself three questions: What is positive or good about this situation? What can I learn from this situation? What opportunities does this situation give me. By asking ourselves questions, we can change our views.
  • Spend time with optimistic people: Spending time with people who make you feel good about yourself and life in general will improve your self-esteem and give you a more positive outlook.
  • Imagine your best possible self: Just a few minutes every day thinking about the person you'd like to be can help to make you more optimistic. A recent study found that thinking about your future self for five minutes each day can make you feel more positive, even after just a couple of weeks.
  • Focus on solutions, not problems: When faced with a problem, instead of panicking or wondering how you got into this mess, think about how you might be able to fix it or improve the situation in the future.
  • Imagine it's the end of the world: Yes, really. Think about the worst situation that could happen to you as a result of the problem you're facing, then make it ridiculous and over the top. For example: "If I forget to send that email, I'll lose my job and then my home, and I'll be forced live in the woods with a family of squirrels and eat acorns." You'll realize that nothing as bad as the scenario you've pictured can possibly happen to you and you'll feel better.

You can also find more great actions on The Positivity Blog.

Adding any of these actions to your daily life will help you see things through an optimistic lens – which will ultimately benefit your mental and physical wellbeing. And if you'd like to delve deeper into the science of optimism, check out these studies and research:

Virginia Mason Updates

Chief of Surgery Transition

As announced in May, after a sterling career as urologist, surgeon, teacher and leader, Fred Govier, MD, announced his intention to retire after 33 years at Virginia Mason. He stepped down as chief of Surgery July 3, and will continue his clinical duties through the end of 2020.

Dr. Govier, who has served as our chief of Surgery since 2007, received the James Tate Mason award last fall. As Dr. Gary Kaplan mentioned when presenting the honor, it is difficult to identify anyone more deserving than Dr. Govier.

It is also a privilege for me to announce that Stephen Bayles, MD, is the new chief of Surgery, effective July 6. Dr. Bayles has been a tertiary care head and neck surgeon at Virginia Mason for 17 years. He has served as deputy chief of Surgery and section head of Otolaryngology since 2008, and is known for his surgical expertise, commitment to excellence and collaborative style.

Dr. Govier has distinguished himself as an outstanding physician, demonstrating great clinical and surgical skills. Throughout his time at Virginia Mason, he has served as section head of Urology and Renal Transplantation, chief of staff, deputy chief of Surgery and, in 2007, he joined the executive team as chief of Surgery.

Dr. Govier is an advocate for academics and has led numerous postgraduate courses, lectures, workshops and presentations, always representing Virginia Mason as an exemplary leader in his field. His passion for academics has helped attract the very best and brightest clinicians in all specialties and made a huge difference in our community and beyond. Dr. Govier has authored, co-authored or presented more than 200 peer-reviewed papers, and has given hundreds of presentations, workshops and interviews on urologic topics.

He has chaired numerous national programs and served on several Physician Advisory Boards. He completed a six-year term as a trustee of the American Board of Urology in 2018. He has served on numerous committees within the American Urologic Association (AUA), including serving as president of the Western Section of the AUA. Dr. Govier has also served as president of the Northwest Urology Society and the Washington State Urology Society.

Dr. Bayles received his medical degree from Emory University, Atlanta, in 1994, and subsequently completed an internship in General Surgery and residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Emory. Since joining Virginia Mason in 2003, he has served on many committees, including Robotics Steering, Hospital Medical Staff, Cancer, Perioperative Steering and Nominating. Dr. Bayles also served as physician cancer liaison to the American College of Surgeons.

He has received numerous accolades and honors during his tenure at Virginia Mason, including Best Doctors, Seattle Metropolitan Magazine and Seattle Magazine Top Doctors, and guide to America's Top Physicians. Dr. Bayles also received the Honor Award from the Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery; and the Cancer Liaison Physician Outstanding Performance Award, from the Commission on Cancer.

Dr. Bayles is active in his community, serving as a volunteer with the Washington Trails Association and on the fundraising committee for the Issaquah High School music program.

Dear team member,

Happy Fourth of July! We hope you and your family are keeping well, keeping safe and looking forward to the holiday.

For Our Team Members

Managing Your Wellbeing

We hand pick a variety of tips and resources each week for your emotional, financial, physical and social wellbeing. Here are a few of our favorites:

Virginia Mason Updates

Black Lives Matter – Demonstrating Our Values

As we acknowledge serving patients and families in our 100th year anniversary, we are finding new opportunities to actively demonstrate our values of equality, inclusion and Respect for People.

On the main campus sky bridge, we have placed Pride flags in honor of Pride Month, and placed two new banners honoring Black Lives Matter.

Along with our community, we are looking for more ways to take a stand, raise our voices and support the movement against systemic racism and injustice in our society.

Chairman and CEO Gary S. Kaplan, MD, states, "We have a duty to ensure all individuals in our community can thrive, which is why we say, Black Lives Matter. The recent events and ongoing protests reflect the pain and intense frustration felt by so many. Each day, we have the ability to model change, as we stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues, patients and community members."

Our organization has responded by reaching out through communication channels to denounce recent events and show widespread care team support. Virginia Mason also contributed to the launch of the Black Future Co-op Fund, to invest in local Black communities in health, housing, education, youth development, criminal justice reform, economic advocacy and civic engagement.

President Sue Anderson, notes, "We are actively working on making Virginia Mason a more inclusive place, and we know we have more work to do. I am proud that we have been committed to our Respect for People values for almost a decade, but now is a time to reflect on what our community is telling us, and be determined in our efforts to create lasting change."

Hospital Gift Shop Reopens

As another sign of the organization's return to more normal operations, the hospital Gift Shop (Serenity) reopened June 29 – albeit with a few changes.

New business hours will be Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. And to help ensure a safe retail experience, only four customers will be allowed in the Gift Shop at a time.

In celebration of the reopening, team members will receive a 20 percent discount (rather than the normal 10 percent) on all items the week of June 29-July 3. In addition, to enhance its reopening and help recognize our opening of the new Birth Center later this summer, the Gift Shop will begin selling baby items.

Virginia Mason appreciates team members' patronage of the Gift Shop since proceeds help support patient services. Happy shopping!

Video Encourages Patients to Resume Care

In light of COVID-19, it's understandable that many of our patients have delayed coming to a Virginia Mason facility for chronic illnesses, or perhaps have even ignored or postponed addressing new symptoms. However, delaying important medical care – whether an evaluation or treatment – can make things worse.

For this reason, the Communications department coordinated the production of a video that summarizes the array of safety protocols in place, while encouraging patients to resume care however most appropriate and convenient.

The four-minute piece, which features 18 team members in various roles, is also posted on and will be shared through our social media channels.

For Our Team Members

Seahawks Make 12 Tour Stop at Virginia Mason

Each summer since 2004, a handful of Seahawks representatives have embarked on a statewide (COVID-compliant!) tour around Washington to visit and thank fans for their loyal support.

Dubbed the "12 Tour," stops normally include locations up and down the I-5 corridor and throughout central and eastern Washington. However, due to COVID-19, the NFL team had to pivot and schedule all three of this year's stops in Seattle. They included the Capitol Hill Safeway, Southwest Boys & Girls Club and Virginia Mason Medical Center.

On June 20, Blitz and a handful of Seahawks Community Engagement staff hosted a midday recognition event on the Lindeman Pavilion patio for a couple dozen frontline team members from various departments. Local sports radio personality Gee Scott kicked off the event by recognizing individual staff before presenting the group with a ceremonial 12 flag. The team also provided team members with Seahawks face masks, hand-held 12 flags and lunch.

In an effort to help facilitate physical distancing, the team then arranged for retired defensive end Cliff Avril and current linebacker Cody Barton to make a virtual visit via robots that allowed the players to steer the jersey-adorned devices as well as see and speak with patients and team members on three different units – Oncology, Orthopedics and Critical Care.

To share the event with fans, the Seahawks posted pictures from the Virginia Mason stop on their website and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter).

Go Hawks!


Celebrating PCTs and Emergency Department Techs

National Patient Care Technician/Nursing Assistant week is June 18-24, and these team members are making a positive difference in so many lives. Year round, these diligent and attentive team members play a vital role in partnering with care teams in maintaining a healing and safe environment for our patients and visitors. We are grateful for their compassion, teamwork and hard work!

Sound Bites Now Offers Home Delivery and Discount

Since 2018, Virginia Mason has partnered with Cedar Grove's sister company Sound Sustainable Farms (SSF) to provide locally grown certified organic vegetables to its team members in the form of a weekly Community Supported Agriculture program. This program featured vegetables grown in the very soil created from the hospital's composting program, grown on a 70 acre farm in Redmond.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, SSF launched a new venture in May — Sound Bites Home Delivery Marketplace — providing freshly harvested organic produce, and partnering with local businesses to add proteins and frozen items, delivered to your doorstep!

As a thank you to all Virginia Mason workers, Sound Bites is offering a 10% off all orders in recognition of the efforts and sacrifices you've made during this pandemic. Use code VMSB to apply the discount during check out on the Sound Bites site.

Virginia Mason, Cedar Grove, and Sound Sustainable Farms are proud to support our local community, and look forward to bringing healthy and safe food choices to your home this summer!

For more information visit

Managing Your Wellbeing

We hand pick a variety of tips and resources each week for your emotional, financial, physical and social wellbeing. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Caring for our caregivers: Our jobs aren't easy — packed work days, demanding pace, time pressures and emotional intensity leave us at high risk for stress, burnout, anxiety and PTSD. Now more than ever, it's important that we take care of our emotional wellbeing, and this starts with learning how to recognize and manage stress, anxiety, burnout and PTSD.

    Stanford curated a list of anonymous online sites where you can test yourself for anxiety, burnout, depression, emotional intelligence, empathy, happiness, mindfulness, PTDS, self-compassion, stress, substance abuse and more.

    They also provide detailed resources on stress and burnout. We highly recommend these sites.
  • Taking control of — and talking about — your emotional wellbeing: Emotional health is not about always being happy, but it is linked to your ability to understand and influence your emotional reactions to things. When we are in a positive emotional state, we find it easier to be energized and motivated, able to adjust to and deal with setbacks or pressure. Dive deeper into how to take control of your emotional health, and take a look at tips for starting and supporting a conversation about wellbeing with your colleagues.

    Then keep the conversation going – sustaining an emotionally well workplace will support you to continue the conversation and understand your colleagues' pressures.

  • How health care workers can take care of themselves: "The anesthesiologist’s beeper goes off — it’s an emergency call to place a breathing tube in a patient critically ill with coronavirus. The intensity level in the hospital is like nothing she’s ever imagined ... Even when the procedure is over, the emotional challenge is not. Not for her, or the many doctors, nurses, technologists, cleaning staff and others on the front lines of health care, or their leaders. The effects linger on beyond their time on the job and manifest in real ways, including insomnia, difficulty concentrating, and decreased energy." Learn more on taking care of your emotional wellbeing.
  • Wondering how to entertain your kids this summer? Maybe don't ... You can keep your family safe and sane by encouraging old-school play, embarking on some D.I.Y. projects and, yes, even embracing boredom. "Feeling that we ought to keep kids happy and entertained is a comparatively modern mind-set and speaks to certain resources and luxuries. Instead of trying to prevent boredom, maybe welcome it and see what children do." Learn more.

Virginia Mason Updates

2020 GME Awards Announced

Every year, members of Virginia Mason house staff and teaching faculty are recognized for their accomplishments and contributions to the learning environment. Congratulations to the following award recipients:


Nam Nguyen, MD
Joseph H. Crampton, MD, Memorial Award, Intern of the Year
In recognition of the intern who, by their excellence of patient care and continued study and self-improvement, best fulfills the traditions of medicine exemplified by Dr. Crampton.

Shanley Deal, MD
General Surgery Graduating Chief Resident of the Year
In recognition of the member of the graduating chief residency class who best exemplifies Dr. Richard C. Thirlby’s abiding example of surgical “Availability, Affability and Ability.” The award celebrates the importance of these simple attributes and recognizes a graduating chief resident's mentorship of the junior resident classes by demonstrating adherence to the "3 A’s.”

Elizabeth McMahon, MD
Anesthesiology Resident of the Year
In recognition of the member of the graduating house staff who by, their excellence in patient care, continued study and self-improvement, and enthusiastic cooperation with others, has contributed most to the learning of the art and science of anesthesiology.

Samuel Garbus, MD
Dr. Robert A. Pommerening Memorial Award, GME Resident of the Year
In recognition of the member of the house staff who, through enthusiastic cooperation with others, equanimity, selflessness and professional excellence, has contributed significantly to the teaching program of their colleagues.

Basil A. Ferenczi, MD
GME Scholarly Achievement Award
In recognition of the resident who has made notable contributions to the health and well-being of our patients.


Erin Cooke, MD
Diagnostic Radiology Teacher of the Year
In recognition of excellence in resident teaching and commitment toward continuing education in diagnostic radiology.
W. Scott Helton, MD
General Surgery Joel Wilson Baker Award
In recognition of the member of the surgery teaching faculty who has been most instrumental in furthering the education of the resident staff in surgery principles, techniques and excellence of patient care.

Sonia Shishido, DO
Anesthesiology L. Donald Bridenbaugh, MD Faculty Teaching Award
In recognition of that member of the Anesthesiology staff who, with enthusiasm and patience, has been most instrumental in furthering the education of house staff in the art and science of anesthesiology.

Dennis Whang, MD  (Hospitalist)                
Medicine John Huff, MD/Robert Hegstrom, MD, Award
That member of the Internal Medicine teaching faculty who best exemplifies clinical acumen, dedication to teaching and humanism and who has contributed most to the education of Internal Medicine house staff.

Susan McCormick, MD, (Gastroenterology)      
Dr. Joyce K. Lammert Excellence in Education Award
The award was presented to that member of Virginia Mason who poured her heart and soul into the betterment of others through education.

Joyce Lammert, MD (Asthma and Allergy)
Dr. Joyce K. Lammert Excellence in Education Award
This award name was changed this year to honor the body of work of Joyce K. Lammert, MD. Dr. Lammert has spent her career educating physicians, leaders and all those around her. Being both the perpetual student and teacher, Dr. Lammert exemplifies excellence in education.

For Our Team Members

Community Expresses Thanks to Virginia Mason Team Members

It is an understatement to say that 2020 has been a challenging year for Virginia Mason team members, but your hard work and dedication have been noticed by many. The Virginia Mason Foundation is sharing this video so you can see, firsthand, how much our community appreciates all that you do. To date, Virginia Mason has received more than 1,000 gifts totaling $1.8 million to support our COVID-19 response efforts.

Reminder: Get the Legal Documents You Need at No Cost

Through June 30, our benefits partner MetLife is sharing free health care planning tools for Virginia Mason team members as their way of saying thank you – and to help make sure you and your family are protected.

To get started, go to and answer a few questions. In as little as 15 minutes, you can create three legal documents, including health care proxy.

10 Ways to Celebrate Pride While Social Distancing This Year

The coronavirus pandemic may have put a stop to large social gatherings like pride parades and other events this year, but that definitely doesn't mean that Pride itself is canceled. Check out what's happening locally.

For additional information on donating to organizations that support the LGBTQ community to tuning into livestreams and other virtual Pride events, see Insider's 10 ways to celebrate Pride this June and The New York Times' virtual Pride event guide.

Managing Your Wellbeing

We hand pick a variety of tips and resources each week for your emotional, financial, physical and social wellbeing. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • How to cope when COVID steals loving touch, hugs: Carolyn Ellis and her mom describe themselves as a very "huggy" family. So both knew it would be an adjustment when COVID-19 triggered social distancing, lockdowns and quarantines. But neither of them realized just how hard it would be to go months without hugging. "The reaction of the world tells me that everybody needs a hug right now. It’s not just fluffy stuff. There is science behind it. The mental health impacts are real," she says.
  • You're never too old to regain that lost muscle — and you can do it at home: If you're of a certain age and feeling like household activities are more difficult than they used to be, you aren't alone. But it doesn't have to be that way. See how to regain some of that lost muscle mass and, more importantly, stay strong enough to enjoy youthful activities well into your winter years.
  • Have a patio or small yard? That's all you need for a tiny victory garden.
  • Stressing out? S.T.O.P.: Two-thirds of Americans say they need help for stress. But stress itself is not the problem. It’s how we relate to stress. The stress response is critical to our survival. It can save our lives or enable a firefighter to carry a 300-pound man down 20 flights of stairs. Of course, most of us don’t encounter a life-or-death threat all that often. We usually experience stress in response to thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations. Use this short practice (S.T.O.P.) to stress less.
  • Professional care is available: The Employee Assistance Program is a free and confidential service that provides objective, personalized counseling and advice. BetterHelp can connect you with a counselor at your convenience, in a way that works for you – messaging, chat, phone or video. And the First Choice Health Behavioral Health Program provides voluntary and confidential assistance to create an emotional wellbeing plan for care tailored to you.

Virginia Mason Updates

Virginia Mason Supports Fund Created by Black Leaders Coalition

As part of the health system's longstanding commitment to Respect for People, Virginia Mason is providing financial support to the Black Future Co-op Fund, which aims to acknowledge the harm that systemic racism has had on the Black community, particularly in Washington state.

The mission of the fund is to eradicate poverty, build generational wealth, preserve Black culture and celebrate the incredible resilience of the Black community. It will intentionally utilize gift-making and technical support to uplift the Black community by investing in health, housing, education, art, criminal justice reform, economic development, civic engagement and more.

The statewide fund, which was created by a coalition of Black leaders, will be managed by Seattle Foundation. Learn more here.

Virginia Mason Receives Outstanding Patient Experience Award

This week Virginia Mason received the Healthgrades Outstanding Patient Experience Award for the eighth straight year. This distinction places the medical center among the top 5 percent of hospitals nationwide for patient experience, based on Healthgrades data.

"This award recognizes the commitment – across our organization – to always putting the patient first in everything we do every day," said Chairman and CEO Gary S. Kaplan, MD. "I am extremely proud of our team members for their focus on quality, safety and creating a truly remarkable experience for our patients."

Healthgrades evaluated hospital performance by applying a scoring methodology to 10 patient experience measures, using data collected from a 29-question experience survey from the hospital's own patients. Questions focused on patients' perspectives of their care in the hospital. Topics ranged from cleanliness and noise levels in patient rooms to physician and nurse communication. Measures also included whether a patient would recommend the hospital to family and friends.

Virginia Mason Annual Report Now Live

The 2019 Virginia Mason Annual Report can now be viewed at In it you'll find uplifting stories of treatment and healing, told to us by patients and their loved ones who entrusted us with their care. Read about the remarkable journey of four people participating in a paired kidney donation, and the advanced immunotherapy for cancer that allowed a couple to travel again. Each story is a testament to the providers and care team members who never fail to put the patient at the top.

Updates from Benaroya Research Institute – from utilizing virtual reality for studying cells to interventions for delaying type 1 diabetes – shed light on the world-class research underway next door. Images of daily life at Bailey-Boushay House illustrate the human side of our mission: To improve the health and well-being of the patients we serve. Look for more stories of dedicated service and care in the Virginia Mason Memorial section, and in the profiles of organizations and individuals who support us through the Foundation.

We hope you are inspired by this look back on the extraordinary work of Virginia Mason Health System.

Dear team member,

We continue to hope that you, your family and your loved ones are safe and managing as well as you can during these challenging times.

Virginia Mason leadership and team members have reflected this week on events occurring in our community. We started a dialogue on racism, privilege and Respect for People and will be working to create a space for meaningful, lasting change at Virginia Mason that makes us more inclusive and equitable. We look forward to welcoming you back soon and hearing your voice in this conversation.

    For Our Team Members

    Celebrating Pride Month

    Virginia Mason recognizes June as Pride month in honor of LGBTQI+ individuals in Washington and around the country.

    In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, LGBTQI+ individuals protesting unequal treatment began spontaneous demonstrations against police brutality in New York City. These protests spread nationally and led to the modern LGBTQI+ movement for equal civil rights. We recognize this month as a time of reflection and appreciation for our team members and patients in gratitude for the brave individuals who have advocated for civil and human rights.

    While the current pandemic has led Seattle Pride festivities to go virtual, Virginia Mason is honoring Pride month by showcasing a Pride banner on our Seattle Campus. We'll miss gathering together in person for Pride this year as we have in the past, but you can participate virtually in a number of events (see for details).

    We're also proud and excited to hold our first-ever continuing medical education day on LGBTQI+ health care on Oct. 30. Look for details on this event soon.

    How to be Financially Resilient During a Crisis

    Ninety percent of Americans feel anxious about money due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These stress levels are the same across all income groups. Unfortunately, financially-stressed people are more likely to face physical and mental health challenges. While the economic future is uncertain, there are a number of ways you can improve your financial health. This infographic provides a step-by-step strategy.

    Managing Your Wellbeing

    Stress, anxiety and doubt can be just as contagious as COVID-19 – which is why it’s more important than ever to prioritize your wellbeing. Here are a few of our favorite wellbeing tips and resources:

    • Realize that emotional wellbeing is important – and different – for everyone: We all deal with stress differently. There’s no wrong way to feel. Embracing and learning from each other’s feelings will make everyone stronger.

    • What’s good for your heart is good for your brain: What can add years to your life, help you lose weight, boost your mood, improve your sleep, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, keep your bones and your brain healthy? Exercise!
    • 3 mindfulness pauses that can stop your runaway mind: When your mind is incessantly busy, it can trigger a ‘fight or flight’ reaction to everyday moments. Rather than bringing your best self to these moments, you react with impatience, poor decision-making, anger, forgetfulness, exhaustion or sadness. These reactions are understandable but we can begin to meet the stresses of the day more skillfully with these mindfulness practices.
    • 25 best healthy comfort food ideas that you may not realize are good for you: These recipes prove that eating healthy doesn’t have to deprive you of some of your favorite foods.

    • Professional care is available: The Employee Assistance Program is a free and confidential service that provides objective, personalized counseling and advice. BetterHelp can connect you with a counselor at your convenience, in a way that works for you – messaging, chat, phone or video. And the First Choice Health Behavioral Health Program provides voluntary and confidential assistance to create an emotional wellbeing plan for care tailored to you.

    Virginia Mason Updates

    Boeing Classic Postpones Golf Tournament Until 2021 Due to COVID-19

    This year's Boeing Classic, the longstanding PGA TOUR Champions event benefitting Virginia Mason programs and services, will not be held this summer out of an abundance of caution for public health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Originally scheduled for Aug. 17-23 at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge, event organizers will instead focus on a successful return to the PGA TOUR Champions schedule in 2021. The decision was made jointly with state and local health officials and the PGA.

    "While we are deeply disappointed to cancel the 16th annual Boeing Classic, this is the right thing to do given the uncertainty for large public gatherings in our state and the need to protect players, fans, sponsors and volunteers," said Brian Flajole, tournament director.

    Since 2005, the tournament has raised nearly $10 million for local charities, including its main beneficiary, Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason. The weeklong event features the Seattle Seahawks Rumble at the Ridge golf tournament, as well as a variety of activities culminating in the PGA TOUR Champions event, where legends of the game compete for a $2.1 million purse.

    Leading-Edge COVID-19 Therapies and Clinical Trials at Virginia Mason

    Virginia Mason is committed to providing patients with COVID-19 access to leading-edge therapies. We continue to pursue new clinical trials every day in hopes of alleviating symptoms or shortening the course of disease until researchers find a vaccine.

    There are currently no Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs or therapeutics for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. However, the rapidly evolving knowledge and hundreds of clinical trials around the globe provide optimism that multiple, effective COVID-19 treatments will be developed. Virginia Mason is using various modalities to treat patients infected with the virus. In severely ill patients, we frequently use a multipronged approach, including:

    • Convalescent plasma: Plasma from patients who have recovered from the disease (convalescent plasma) contains antibodies that may help acutely ill patients with COVID-19. The COVID-19 Expanded Access Program collects and provides convalescent plasma to patients in need across the country. Virginia Mason transfused its first patient with convalescent plasma April 27 and has treated 19 patients to date. Team members who have recovered from COVID-19, or think they may have previously been infected with the virus, can contact Bloodworks Northwest to inquire about possibly serving as a plasma donor.
    • Remdesivir: Remdesivir is a new drug developed by California-based Gilead Sciences, Inc. It has received heightened awareness as a potential treatment for COVID-19 since it has been shown to have benefit against viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2. Virginia Mason was selected as a site for Gilead Remdesivir Clinical Trials in hospitalized patients with moderate and severe disease. Virginia Mason enrolled its first patient on March 26 and, by the end of the trial on May 29, had enrolled 30 patients.

    Message from Chairman and CEO Gary S. Kaplan, MD

    I am writing with a heavy heart, and I’m sure many of you share my feelings. The senseless deaths of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and George Floyd in Minnesota are tragic. These events shine yet another spotlight on the longstanding systemic racism and injustices in our country — at a time when we are already in crisis with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Americans are hurting and the ongoing protests and recent events only begin to illustrate the deeply rooted pain and frustrations felt by so many.

    As an organization, we believe in equity, inclusion and respect for people. We have a duty to ensure all individuals in our community can thrive, which is why we say, Black Lives Matter. We stand together in solidarity with our African American and minority colleagues, patients, and community members.

    We also believe change can happen when we come together to take a stand and raise our voices. Our nation is not equal, and for far too many of our most vulnerable citizens, the inequities in this country are fatal. As long as this statement stands true, our communities cannot truly be healthy or well. Our country must right these wrongs so we can build a more just society where every individual has the opportunity to achieve success and live their healthiest life.

    Each day that we interact with our communities, we have an opportunity to model change as we go. At Virginia Mason this work can begin in the exam room. It can begin in the emergency room or the operating room. Anywhere you may have an interpersonal encounter, you have an opportunity to demonstrate respect. Respected populations are healthier populations.

    We chose health care as our profession because we have a common purpose to help others, our broader communities, and to keep each other safe and healthy.

    I stand with you; Virginia Mason stands with you in the fight against racism and injustice.

    Thank you for all you do for our patients, each other and our community.

      For Our Team Members

      Care Community Loses Another to COVID-19

      The local health care community lost another intensive care unit nurse to COVID-19 last week, news that may have gone unnoticed with all the media attention on area protests. Kurt Julian, RN, a nurse in the intensive care unit at EvergreenHealth and the husband of Virginia Mason critical care nurse Kathy Julian, RN, died Friday.

      Kurt cared for COVID-19 patients for weeks before he got sick. EvergreenHealth is where COVID-19 patients from Life Care Center of Kirkland were transported. At first, he was treated at EvergreenHealth, then transferred to Harborview Medical Center.  After spending weeks on a ventilator and, most recently, on a heart-lung machine, he died Friday morning with Kathy by his side, KIRO-7 TV reported. Kurt worked at Virginia Mason several years ago.

      The ICU teams at Virginia Mason, EvergreenHealth and Harborview shared a moment of silence in honor of Kurt on Friday.

      "Our thoughts and prayers are with Kathy and her family for their heartbreaking loss," says Charleen Tachibana, RN, senior vice president, Quality & Safety, and chief nursing officer. "I also want to thank all our nurses and other frontline team members for their continuing service during this difficult time. The loss of Kurt puts all of our work into perspective, and yet it is hard to put into words the great sense of pride I have in our team members and their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our community is fortunate to have such dedicated professionals caring for all those who have been affected by this disease."

      Take Action to Prevent Unemployment Fraud

      We shared this last week, but the fraudulent claims continue, so we thought it was important to include again in this update.

      Criminals are using stolen data to file fraudulent claims for unemployment. Want to prevent being targeted, or find out if you have been? Washington's unemployment agency, the Employment Security Department (ESD), recommends you take these simple steps:

      1. Set up a Secure Access Washington account.
      2. Sign into your account and begin the process to file for unemployment. Don't worry, you won't actually be filing for unemployment.
      3. At the "verify my identity" step, you will be able to see if anyone has accessed your account, or filed a claim on your behalf.
      4. Enter your email to verify your account.

      If you've already been a victim of this fraud, ESD recommends the following:

      Wellbeing: Finding Calm

      From watching the news to scrolling through social media a little too much, it's easy to get lost in all that is going on around us. If you're feeling like that, you're not alone. These events have us all facing more stress, anxiety and uncertainty than usual.

      That's why self-care is so important. Taking time to step away – to focus on your own health and wellbeing – can help ease those feelings. Actions you can take to care for yourself include limiting your time online, exercising, embracing a hobby, learning something new and … strengthening empathy, understanding and kindness toward yourself and others.

      This last one is especially powerful. As psychologist Tara Brach notes, "The single most important thing that can happen right now is that we feel our collectivity — that we're really here to help each other move through this. And the truth is each one of us can help. We have a real gift to offer each other just by who we are and how we come forward. If we can find an inner refuge of calm, our calm is contagious."

      A simple, effective way to reset your perspective and find that calm is through a loving-kindness meditation. Don't let the name scare you off! This meditation is just about making you feel more connected and wishing happiness, safety, health and appreciation for yourself and other people.

      There are different ways to practice this meditation. Here's our favorite version.

      Loving-kindness Meditation

      1. Choose a comfortable position where you can sit with your back straight and eyes closed.
      2. Imagine that you are breathing out tension and breathing in feelings of wellbeing, compassion and peace.
      3. Repeat these phrases to yourself.
        • May I be happy
        • May I be safe
        • May I be healthy, peaceful and strong
        • May I give and receive appreciation today
      4. Pause for a while to contemplate what the words truly mean and to see how they are making you feel. If your attention drifts, gently redirect it back.
      5. After a period of directing loving-kindness toward yourself, bring to mind someone in your life who has deeply cared for you. Feel your gratitude and love for them. Then slowly repeat the phrases and intentions toward them:
        • May you be happy
        • May you be safe
        • May you be healthy, peaceful and strong
        • May you give and receive appreciation today
      6. As you continue the meditation, you can bring to mind other family, friends, neighbors, strangers and people with whom you have difficulty.
      7. Take as much time as you need to repeat the words. When you feel your meditation is complete, end the session by saying "May I be happy; may I be safe; may I be healthy, peaceful and strong; may I give and receive appreciation today."

      Wondering About Your “Wellbeing Score?”

      Wonder no more! Our friends at Greater Good are sharing quick quizzes on their ten building blocks of individual and community wellbeing — the behaviors that research suggests will support your health and happiness, and foster positive connections with other people. The blocks are altruism, awe, bridging differences, compassion, diversity, empathy, forgiveness, gratitude, happiness, mindfulness and social connection.

      Take the quizzes yourself to see your score, and for tailored tips to improve your wellbeing.

      Virginia Mason Updates

      Big Donations from Pro Athletes

      Virginia Mason has been supported so generously by our community during the pandemic with many donations of food, PPE, supplies and much more. Last Friday was a big day as San Antonio Spur and former University of Washington basketball player Dejounte Murray delivered 580 pairs of New Balance shoes to help comfort our team members' feet. Later in the day, Seattle Seahawks Travis Homer and Branden Jackson brought food and beverages for our Emergency Department. We so appreciate everything our team members are doing, and it is clear our community does as well!

      New Respite Space in Central Pavilion

      If you work on the main campus, you’ll have a new place to take a break and decompress when you return. A new respite space just opened in the converted dental office in Central Pavilion 487, across from the Four Seasons Café (look for a "respite space" sign). The space is accessible 24/7 with your badge. Amenities include semi-private rooms with chairs and tables, a kitchen with microwaves, water and a lending library.

      Dear team member,

      We are proud and inspired by the way our team members have risen to this challenge – with flexibility, patience, resilience and love for our community. Thank you for what you’re doing to help Virginia Mason weather this crisis. Your commitment makes all the difference.

      Please look after yourself and your family. We look forward to welcoming you back as soon as possible.

      Musician Gives Heartfelt Performance for Virginia Mason

      Musician and vocalist Allen Stone took time out to compose a mini concert in tribute to the patients and care teams at Virginia Mason. Allen performs four songs with messages of hope and the healing power of our connections with others. "I hope you're feeling grateful for the connection of human beings and the power of relationships," Allen says. "I hope these songs can bring you some comfort."

        For Our Team Members

        Simple Steps to Help Prevent Unemployment Fraud

        As you've read in earlier Team Medicine Updates, criminals are using stolen data to file fraudulent claims for unemployment. Want to prevent being targeted, or find out if you have been? Washington's unemployment agency, the Employment Security Department (ESD), recommends you take these simple steps:

        1. Set up a Secure Access Washington account.
        2. Sign into your account and begin the process to file for unemployment. Don't worry, you won't actually be filing for unemployment.
        3. At the "verify my identity" step, you will be able to see if anyone has accessed your account, or filed a claim on your behalf.
        4. Enter your email to verify your account.

        If you've already been a victim of this fraud, ESD recommends the following:

        Final Extension to CPR Certification and Myles Training Deadlines

        In April, we extended the deadlines for CPR certification and completing competency modules in Myles to May 31. After evaluating the feasibility and safety of completing these assignments, we are updating the deadlines:

        • Myles: We are implementing a final extension for completing competency modules to June 30, to align with the due date for annual performance evaluations. This applies only if you are renewing competencies, not adding new skills (or if you're a new hire).
        • CPR certification: We are following guidance from the American Heart Association to allow a 120-day extension for CPR renewals due in March, April, May or June only. March renewals are due by the end of July; April renewals by the end of August; May renewals by the end of September; and June renewals by the end of October. We have scheduled multiple CPR classes for June and are now scheduling for July and beyond. An important note: If your renewal date is July or later, there is no extension. Your renewal date remains at the end of the month noted on your certification card.

        Myth Busting: N95 Mask Reprocessing

        You may have been hearing news about N95 mask sterilization by Battelle, which was granted an emergency use authorization by the FDA in March and quickly became available in Washington as a method to ensure mask supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. This sterilization process uses hydrogen peroxide gas to decontaminate used masks, returning them to hospitals in individual sealed packages, such as those seen with many other disposable health care supplies. There are rumors that this process is carcinogenic and may be harmful to health care workers; however, the risk is related to ethylene oxide, which is not part of the Battelle process, but was part of a process being considered by other regional health care systems.

        Five Lessons to Remember When Lockdown Ends

        "A lot of people I know have been starting to wonder about life after the shelter-in-place orders have been lifted. What will it be like? What will the new normal be? I’m connected with friends online, but I miss their physical presence. Plus, my sleep and mood have suffered as anxiety looms over the future of our society. I don’t want to negate these feelings or ignore our losses. But I can’t help but see some positives coming from this crisis, too."

        From Greater Good, let's not forget what we learned from going through a pandemic.

        How to Sleep Better

        Good sleep is a foundation for good health and a happier frame of mind. Set the stage for a restful night, starting in the morning and continuing into the early evening. According to research, almost a third of us drag ourselves out of bed in the morning because we haven’t gotten enough good-quality sleep at night, which means we’re not feeling as great as we could be during the day.

        Get 15 science-backed tips for your best rest. Note: you don't need to sign up for Headspace to see the tips.

        Virginia Mason Updates

        Campaign Encourages Patients to Seek Needed Health Care

        As Virginia Mason resumes clinic and hospital operations, our "Get Care" campaign, in partnership with the Washington State Hospital Association (WHSA) and other Washington hospitals, has launched to boost patient confidence in seeking the care they need. Concern and anxiety related to COVID-19 has caused some patients to postpone or not seek needed care. This increases their risk of worsening symptoms and/or outcomes.

        Key campaign messaging, delivered via social media, the Virginia Mason website, portal and billing statements, encourages our patients not to delay getting care, whether for managing chronic conditions or addressing concerning symptoms. Our patients will be assured that:

        • Virginia Mason is committed to providing an environment of safe care.
        • Our teams are ready to meet patients' individual needs, including offering video visits.
        • Their health is essential. Delaying care could lead to a more urgent or emergent health problem.

        WSHA's Get Care public service campaign, expands the message through TV, radio, outdoor and digital advertising. The public will hear that Washington's hospitals and clinics are available, safe and ready to take care of patients' health concerns. Ads will direct patients to this website for more information:

        Virginia Mason Ranked No. 1 in New Community Checkup Report

        Virginia Mason is No. 1 in the Washington Health Alliance's new Community Checkup ranking of commercially insured medical groups, with four or more providers, for overall performance across a range of quality measures.

        "Virginia Mason's ranking in the Community Checkup is a testament to the focus on quality and safety across our organization," said Gary S. Kaplan, MD, chairman and CEO. "Our team's steadfast commitment to excellence distinguishes Virginia Mason and makes a difference in the lives of the patients we serve."

        The 2019 report, released in April, states "consistency in performance deserves special note" in recognizing that Virginia Mason has been in the top five every year since 2015.

        Also, Memorial Physicians LLC at Virginia Mason Memorial in Yakima is No. 6 among the approximately 100 commercially insured medical groups included in the Community Checkup ranking.

        MediSpa Closes, Skincare Products Still Offered

        Earlier this year, we announced plans to close the MediSpa permanently on May 9. Shortly after that announcement, in compliance with Gov. Jay Inslee's guidelines concerning COVID-19, we temporarily closed the MediSpa. Due to additional precautions mandated by the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we have made the decision to close the MediSpa aesthetic services effective May 18.

        We will continue to offer our retail skincare products. They are available for delivery until further notice. You may order through the online order form. Our team will contact you to process your order and to confirm shipment.

        If you have remaining value in unused service packages, you may use the full remaining value toward skincare products or toward cosmetic outpatient services, such as laser treatments or Botox. If you have an unused gift card, you may use the full remaining value toward skincare products. The unused service package or gift card balances will be available until used but may not be refunded or redeemed for cash.

        Although this was a difficult decision, our top priority continues to be the health and wellbeing of our clients, team members and community. If you need to reach us while we are closed, please call (206) 223-8889 and leave a message.

        Holiday Pay for Memorial Day, May 25

        Memorial Day is Monday, May 25, and we wanted to let you know the HR protocol for holidays still applies. If you would be eligible for holiday pay in a non-COVID-19 world, you'll be paid for Memorial Day. Here are the details:

        • Holiday hours will be automatically loaded into Kronos as usual.
        • Whether you're currently working or on furlough, you'll be paid according to your pre-COVID employee status. You'll see 8, 7 or 5 hours in Kronos depending on your FTE.

          New CARES Act Options for Accessing Your Retirement Funds

          If you’ve been struggling financially because of the COVID-19 crisis, you may be thinking about tapping into your retirement savings. You probably heard the new CARES Act lets you draw down money from your retirement account without penalties. It also relaxes rules on taking out a loan from the account and lets you defer existing loan payments.

          But is it the right move? Contact the Fidelity Retirement Benefits Line at (800) 343-0860 to discuss your options and factors you should consider, including your short-term financial needs, potential tax implications and long-term retirement goals.

          Notify Employee Health When Household Members Have COVID-19

          Employee Health requests team members notify them when any household members test positive for COVID-19. Employees should remain home, follow their call-in process, and use the Employee Health Symptom Line, (206) 341-0200. This type of exposure is considered high risk, and we want to continue to do all we can to safeguard our team members and patients, and provide resources to team members managing COVID-19 at home, if needed.

          After-Hours Nurse Line for Team Members Ending May 24

          For several years, a 24-hour nurse line has been available to help team members determine the medical care needed for specific non-emergency symptoms (this is not the same nurse line available to patients). Very few people used it, though, and now that we offer several virtual care options, we decided it's the right time to close the nurse line. The service ends Sunday, May 24.

          Don't worry, though! You can still get care from the comfort of home around the clock:

          • "Virtual Mason" telehealth with Virginia Mason providers
          • Virtual Care Clinic through Amwell
          • Call your primary care provider after-hours to be directed to a different 24-hour nurse line available to all Virginia Mason patients

          Reminder: Get the Legal Documents You Need at No Cost

          Through June 30, our benefits partner MetLife is sharing free health care planning tools for Virginia Mason team members as their way of saying thank you – and to help make sure you and your family are protected.

          To get started, go to and answer a few questions. In as little as 15 minutes, you can create three legal documents, including health care proxy.

          Team Members Help Conserve Disposable Isolation Gowns

          With the help of our teammates, Virginia Mason has been able to successfully implement multiple PPE conservation strategies quickly when faced with supply shortages. This past week, we implemented conservation measures to help our supply of disposable gowns. We successfully dropped usage from 2,800 disposable gowns a day to 1,000 a day. The small changes from individual team members make a huge difference across the organization. Keep up the great work!

          Clarification of Tests Used at Virginia Mason

          You may have seen the news about an unacceptably high false negative rate of 15% for the Abbott ID Now COVID-19 viral test. This is not a test used at Virginia Mason. The three tests run at Virginia Mason are the Abbott m2000, the Genmark ePlex and the Cepheid Xpert Xpress.

          How Virginia Mason is Treating COVID-19 Patients

          With so much in the news about therapies for treating patients with COVID-19, you may be wondering what therapies Virginia Mason is using. The therapies include convalescent plasma, Tocilizumab and participation in a clinical trial for Remdesivir.

          Scammers Filing False Unemployment Claims during COVID Crisis

          Americans are filing for unemployment benefits in record numbers – and scammers are trying to cash in.

          In the latest scheme, criminals are filing fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits. This is a widespread problem, happening all across the country – including in Washington. And unfortunately, phony claims have been filed for several Virginia Mason team members.

          This scam is identity theft. It’s not clear how these criminals are accessing the personal information needed to file a claim, but according to the Seattle Times, it may be connected to data breaches at websites and retailers. For example, one person who contacted the Times said a family member named in a fraudulent unemployment claim had also been a victim of the 2017 Equifax data breach.

          How to know if you’ve been targeted by this scam

          You may be contacted by Virginia Mason’s Human Resources team because they’ve been asked to verify your eligibility for unemployment by Washington’s unemployment insurance agency, the Employment Security Department (ESD). Virginia Mason will NEVER initiate an unemployment claim on your behalf.

          But it’s far more likely you’ll get a notice from ESD about an unemployment claim you did NOT file. These notices are sent by ESD because someone started a claim in your name.

          What to do if you’ve been targeted

          1. Contact ESD at Include the following in your email:
            • Your full name
            • Last 4 numbers of your Social Security number (never put your full SSN in an email)
            • Your address
            • A copy of your driver’s license (so ESD can verify your identity)
            • Brief description of how you found out an impostor-fraud claim was filed using your information
            • If a fraudulent claim was filed using your information, do you give ESD permission to deny and cancel it?
          2. If you received a notice from ESD, report the incident to Human Resources at (206) 223-6757. Let HR know a fraudulent claim was filed in your name and that you have already contacted ESD. This ensures HR is aware of the fraud and can appropriately coordinate with ESD.
          3. File a non-emergency report with the appropriate law enforcement agency, typically the city police or sheriff’s office in the jurisdiction you live.
          4. Report the fraudulent claims to the three credit bureaus. Consider adding a fraud alert to your account or freezing your credit – both will make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name. Check your credit activity at least once a year (victims of identity theft have the right to check it monthly for free).
          5. Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at or (877) 438-4338.

          6. Keep all your notes from the incident, including case numbers and dates you contacted the agencies above. You may need this information for years to access services and accommodations available to victims of identity theft, such as correcting your credit report and sealing some public records.

          Committed to Safe Care

          Virginia Mason launched a marketing campaign to encourage patients not to wait to schedule appointments for primary and specialty care, and not to wait on urgent/emergent care, either. We’re reaching out through social media, our website, portal and bill stuffers, Facebook and Instagram.

          A key message: Virginia Mason is committed to providing an environment of safe care. With new evidence for pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic spread of COVID-19, we are screening patients and visitors for symptoms, and require everyone – including team members – to wear masks or face coverings.

          Get the Legal Documents You Need at No Cost

          Through June 30, our benefits partner MetLife is sharing free health care planning tools for Virginia Mason team members as their way of saying thank you – and to help make sure you and your family are protected.

          To get started, go to and answer a few questions. In as little as 15 minutes, you can create three legal documents, including health care proxy.

          Virginia Mason First to Order Special Respirators from Ford, 3M

          Virginia Mason is the first medical center in the nation to order and take delivery of the Ford-built, 3M-designed powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR), which are specifically engineered to protect health care workers taking care of COVID-19 patients.

          Since late March, Ford has been working with 3M to create urgently needed PAPRs, using design guidance from 3M and off-the-shelf parts, like vehicle ventilator fans and power tool batteries. The PAPR includes a hood and face shield to cover health care professionals' heads and shoulders, while a high-efficiency (HEPA) filter system provides a supply of filtered air for up to eight hours. Ford and 3M plan to donate any profits they earn from the sale of the PAPR to COVID-19 related nonprofit organizations.

          Seahawks Surprise Community Heroes, Including Two of Our Team Members

          Two Virginia Mason team members were among 12 community heroes honored by the Seattle Seahawks this week. Dary Collado, MA-C, General Internal Medicine, and Melanie Anderson, senior application engineer, Laboratory Services, were surprised with video calls from Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll and second-year star DK Metcalf, who thanked them for their efforts and gave each a pair of season tickets. Both were nominated by their peers:

          • "Dary volunteered to work outside when temperatures were in the 20s - AND shave his beloved beard - all so Virginia Mason could provide more extraordinary care to our community. Dary! When the call went out, Dary stepped up to be part of the first group staffing Virginia Mason's drive-through COVID-19 testing facility for patients and team members. The only thing standing in his way was his beard. For the safety of all concerned, our team needed to wear masks that were "fit tested" (a test that ensures the mask properly fits the face of the person wearing it). Unfortunately, we had to turn Dary away because of the beard and started looking for a replacement. Within 10 minutes, though, Dary returned with a clean-shaven face, determined to serve our patients and team members. Truly an inspiration!"
          • "Quick testing of COVID-19 is critical to identifying, isolating, treating and limiting the spread of the disease. Melanie is the essential but unseen hero in our midst who helped Virginia Mason build incredibly fast and effective internal testing capabilities. Thanks to Melanie's phenomenal "can do" attitude and endless focus on building, rebuilding and testing our computer interfaces, Virginia Mason cycled insanely fast from having to send all COVID-19 tests to an outside facility to moving that work internally and testing within days to now testing within only 90 minutes. Incredible! Melanie has repeatedly gone above and beyond since the pandemic began so Virginia Mason can provide extraordinary care to our community."

          Congratulations, Dary and Melanie! A big thank you to you and all team members who are continuing to excel during the COVID-19 crisis.

          National Nurses Week: Two Nurses Share Their Stories

          During National Nurses Week, May 6-12, we honored the more than 1,200 members of the nursing team at Virginia Mason who have answered the special calling to be a nurse, dedicating their lives to selflessly care for patients, their families and caregivers.

          We asked two of our nurses to share what path led them to nursing and what continues to inspire them:

          • Chelsea Reimer, RN – Critical Care. In normal times, Chelsea Reimer, RN, BSN, CCRN, relaxes by exploring the Pacific Northwest. Amid COVID-19, she assists fellow nurses so they can unwind. A Critical Care Unit (CCU) resource nurse, Chelsea steps in to care for patients so other CCU nurses can take much-needed breaks while also addressing vital hospital needs. "Facilitating Facetime calls so families can see their loved ones, even just through a screen, has been such a joy. I'm so thankful Virginia Mason has provided this option for families."
          • Deborah Coatsworth, RN – Bainbridge Island Medical Center. Deborah Coatsworth, RN, takes the idea of wearing many hats to heart, providing cardiac care to patients on the island. She tells us, "I work as a specialty nurse for part of my hours at VM Bainbridge and in that role, I do cardiac testing along with a sonographer and a cardiovascular lab tech. Patients on an island are always very grateful that they can have a cardiac test locally rather than having to travel into Seattle."

          To each of our nurses — thank you for answering the call to nursing, for choosing to work at Virginia Mason and for the exceptional work you do each day!

          National Nurses Week: Honoring Our Nursing Team Members

          As we celebrate National Nurses Week, we honor the more than 1,000 members of the nursing team at Virginia Mason who have answered the special calling to be a nurse, dedicating their lives to selflessly care for patients, their families and caregivers.

          Virginia Mason nurses serve in numerous positions beyond bedside care, including leadership, quality, professional development, research, employee health, infection prevention, emergency care and process improvement.

          At Bailey-Boushay House, nurses deliver compassionate and complex care to patients with HIV/AIDS and those who need end-of-life care for cancer, Huntington's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

          Nurses care for research participants enrolled in clinical studies at Virginia Mason, overseen by Benaroya Research Institute whose mission is to predict, prevent, reverse and cure diseases of the immune system.

          We asked for two of our nurses to share what path led them to nursing and what continues to inspire them:

          • Sharon Watts, RN-BC – General Internal Medicine and Concierge Medicine: I remember being admitted to the hospital when I was a child and I was in an isolation room. There was a little boy who was younger than me, in the room next to me. I could see him through a partition window. I felt very sorry for him and wanted to comfort him but I couldn't. I don't know if that is what inspired me to choose nursing as a career, but I know the experience stayed with me, and that nursing is something I always wanted to do.
          • Sarah E. Partain, RN – Infection Prevention and Control: I wanted to be a nurse after I read my first Cherry Ames book (a mystery book with a student nurse as the central character) in fourth grade, and I just marked my 38th year as an RN. I confirmed my desire when, in high school, a family friend was in a very bad car accident. She needed lots of rehabilitation even after she was discharged from the hospital. She and her mom would come over to our house on Sunday afternoons for a swim and dinner. I would help her in and out of the pool, help her with toileting, dressing and eating. I got frontline training even before I started nursing school.

          To each of our nurses — thank you for answering the call to nursing, for choosing to work at Virginia Mason and for the exceptional work you do each day!


          Reopening of Services Starts May 4

          Throughout April, many of our teams and locations consolidated in an effort to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) and reduce expenses. Also, demand for our services was level as the community responded to the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order.

          As we anticipate an increase in demand, we are moving teams back to their home locations to support patient volume and physical distancing needs.

          While we've seen an increase in patient volumes in some areas, we still need to continue staffing to volume in each department. Leaders will communicate with their teams on work schedules and, for those on furlough, their return-to-work-dates. If you have any questions, please reach out to your leader.

          We appreciate everyone's flexibility and support in making these short-term changes. It was a system-wide effort. During this necessary transition, it was impressive to see all teams pull together to make the most of this challenging situation.

          Everyone Needs to Wear Masks in Our Facilities

          All team members should now be masking at all times when in Virginia Mason facilities. This includes nonclinical team members in administrative areas (when physical distancing cannot be maintained), in addition to team members in patient care areas. Of course, masks may be removed when eating or drinking. We need to ensure we are keeping our patients – and each other – safe and healthy.

          Save Money on Household Essentials and More with PerkSpot

          “Yes, I’d like to pay full price,” said no one, ever – especially during times like these, when saving money may be near the top of your list.

          Virginia Mason partners with PerkSpot to offer discounts on everyday expenses, household essentials, home entertainment, electronics and more at thousands of your favorite local and national businesses. And if your family is hunkering down because of the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, you can even save on unanticipated expenses such as computers, technology, online tutoring and meal delivery.

          PerkSpot is free to you and your family. Log in or create your account at and start saving today!

          Wellbeing — Taking Care of You

          Stress, anxiety and doubt can be just as contagious as COVID-19 – which is why it's more important than ever for you to prioritize your wellbeing. Here are tips for taking care of your emotional wellbeing.

          • Accept that you're on an emotional roller coaster
            Emotions like anger, fear and stress may appear, disappear and reappear – and there's nothing wrong with that. We're human! The important thing is how you cope with the emotions and respond to an ever-changing environment. The Employee Assistance Program can help you be aware of and manage your emotions, be at peace with who you are and have the tools to weather life's ups and downs.
          • Professional care is available
            The Employee Assistance Program is a free and confidential service that provides objective, personalized counseling and advice. BetterHelp can connect you with a counselor at your convenience, in a way that works for you – messaging, chat, phone or video. And the First Choice Health Behavioral Health Program provides voluntary and confidential assistance to create an emotional wellbeing plan for care tailored to you.
          • Realize that emotional wellbeing is important – and different – for everyone
            We all deal with stress differently. There's no wrong way to feel. Embracing and learning from each other's feelings will make everyone stronger.
          • Build daily routines
            Feeling as though your life has been thrown into chaos is normal. In addition to endless changes at work, you may suddenly be the “at-home teacher” for your kids or caring for your parents. Blocking out time for everyday tasks like eating and exercising can go a long way in getting life back to normal.
          • Don't neglect other aspects of health
            Don't underestimate the importance of a healthy diet, regular exercise, meditation and sleep to your emotional wellbeing.
          • Do a good deed for others
            Call someone who you know might be struggling and offer to listen. Give a Shout Out to a colleague who is not only going above and beyond, but showing strength, resilience and care for others.

          Updated Kronos Attestation on Being Symptom Free

          A heads up for the next time you log into Kronos: we've updated the attestation that asks you to verify you have been free of COVID-19 symptoms to align with the most recent CDC symptom list. The new attestation is “I confirm in the past 72 hours I had no fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, chills, muscle pain, loss of taste/smell or other COVID-19 symptoms.”

          The full list of COVID-19 symptoms includes fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache (unusual or unexplained by other causes), sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.

          Note: If you’re using a Kronos 4500 clock, you may need to use the scroll button to line up the responses.

          Virginia Mason Maintains Straight-A Status in Leapfrog Safety Program

          Virginia Mason has earned its 17th straight 'A' in the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade program for success in preventing medical mistakes and other potential harms.

          Virginia Mason is one of only 32 hospitals in the nation – and the only one in Washington state – to have consistently earned the highest grade possible since The Leapfrog Group launched this safety program in 2012. The safety grades are issued in the spring and fall.

          “This continuing recognition by Leapfrog affirms that our steadfast focus on quality and safety is the right work and that, together, we are making a difference in the lives of patients we serve,” said Chairman and CEO Gary S. Kaplan, MD. “To be counted again among the safest hospitals in the United States is especially good news for our team during this unprecedented time of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

          Virtual Care Serving Thousands of Patients

          Recently, a Virginia Mason patient had her first-ever video visit with her primary care physician. She got a little help with set up, and was thrilled to see her doctor smiling back at her. The patient, who is 104, couldn't stop waving at the screen.

          With the sudden suspension of in-person visits due to the COVID-19 crisis, patients faced uncertainty as they dealt with ongoing health care needs. While telemedicine has long been a part of the Virginia Mason culture – providing specialty care to support our partners and distant communities – the service wasn't set up for patients in our own backyard. Then a pandemic changed everything, and our teams rose to the challenge.

          Since the virtual care kickoff a little over five weeks ago, more than 19,000 video visits have been completed. “In a matter of days, we shifted to provide a modern day house call that made it possible to deliver care to patients,” says Katerie Chapman, senior vice president, Patient Care Services.

          And yes, patients really like it. Convenience is a factor, as is the time and money saved on travel and parking. Even as in-person care is phased back in, virtual care will continue to be expanded and enhanced, to better serve the unique needs and preferences of our patients.

          Message from Chairman and CEO Gary S. Kaplan, MD

          The following message to all team members is from the April 22 COVID-19 update to the organization:

          I want to express my gratitude and thanks to all team members. We are committed to maintaining the highest standards as we go through this pandemic and as we focus on reopening our services in many areas. In many ways, it seems the tide is beginning to turn, there are glimmers of hope and objective data that tell us we're making progress. Make no mistake, we have a long way to go, but there are some good things on the horizon.

          Many patients have deferred care for a variety of reasons, most significantly the “stay home, stay safe” proclamation and the reduction or elimination of non-essential health care services. We know there are a lot of surgeries waiting to happen, there are a lot of patients with chronic diseases who need their regular check-ins and many patients who need more than televideo can provide. So we're getting ready. We now know we can begin providing more in-person care. And in doing so, it's incumbent upon us that we ensure we have an environment that is safe, comfortable and reassuring. This is a critical component as we begin to expand our services.

          With televideo, we are learning how to connect with our patients in new and different ways. We should be proud of how quickly we have adapted care and embraced technology to stay connected with our patients. I want to thank all of our team members for being nimble, for being open to change, for understanding the uncertainty of the environment we're in. Thank you for the flexibility and willingness to work together as we establish and ensure the best pathways to keep our patients and our team members safe.

          Change is going to be with us and we have to lean in and embrace it. If we stay focused on doing the right thing, we'll make the right decisions for our patients and our team members. Every day, I see Team Medicine in action, and that's what makes us special, makes us unique. It's part of who we will always be. I'm thankful to everyone doing their part to ensure we are here to care for our team members and our patients and their families. I'm proud to have all of you as colleagues.

          Ensuring a Safe, Welcoming Environment

          Virginia Mason’s primary focus is – and always will be – on the health, safety and welfare of our team members, patients, visitors and the communities we serve. We wanted to highlight a few of the steps we’re taking to ensure a safe and welcoming environment.

          • We are closely monitoring all COVID-19 developments. We are in constant contact with local, state and federal health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and we’re following the latest guidance from these agencies.
          • Universal masking is now in effect. This means …
            • We are now mandating masks be worn correctly at all times while in the direct care of patients in all settings at Virginia Mason. Patients should also be masked in all ambulatory settings and in transport within the hospital, if tolerated.
            • In patient-facing areas (including entrances, hallways and the cafeteria), all team members should wear a mask regardless of role.
            • Team members not interfacing with patients in administrative spaces or private offices may wear one of our provided cloth masks. These may be removed as long as physical distancing can be maintained.
          • We published new safety guidelines for team members and new standards for waiting rooms, registration areas and exam rooms.

          Helping Patients with COVID-19 Say Goodbye

          Stories of patients with COVID-19 who passed away without the ability to say goodbye to loved ones are heartbreaking. Virginia Mason team members in the Critical Care Unit saw that there was a need for a new role overseeing end-of-life visits to COVID-19 positive patients from family members. While it was important for visitors to follow the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety protocols, it was also necessary to ensure a compassionate approach to saying goodbye.

          We launched a new end-of-life care program for COVID-19 patients. Support companion nurses support family members in visiting terminal COVID-19 patients, providing compassionate, empathetic support during a very difficult time.

          "We are profoundly inspired by the quick and thoughtful actions of our fellow team members in this critical time, says Charleen Tachibana, RN, senior vice president, Quality and Safety, and chief nursing officer. "This is a wonderful example of how our nurses contribute in ways that are not always visible to our broader community. Thanks to them and to all team members who are coming together and putting patients first, always."

          Video Helps Patients with Video Visits

          A new instructional video is now available on to assist patients who are seeking care via video visits. The three-minute video guides the patient through the process of downloading the "Virtual Mason" app, then provides step-by-step instructions on what to do on the day of the visit. The video includes helpful tips for patients if they are encountering issues such as not being able to hear or see the provider.

          Temporary Modification of CPR Certification and Myles Requirements

          If you were due to renew your CPR certification or complete required Myles modules in March, April or May, please note:

          • Due to safety concerns and patient care priorities, we are not currently offering CPR courses. The American Heart Association has recommended that organizations extend certification periods for health care providers for Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) certification. We’re temporarily extending certification to May 31.
          • We’re also extending the time you have to complete competency modules in Myles. This applies only if you are renewing competencies, not adding new skills (or if you’re a new hire). Myles will still show your original due dates and you’ll still get alerts from Myles to complete the modules, but you won’t be penalized or considered out of compliance.

          We’ll re-evaluate by May 31 the feasibility and safety of our team members to complete these assignments and let you know the status.

          Beware of COVID-Related Scams

          Scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to con people into giving up their money. Though the reason behind their fraud is new, their tactics are familiar. It can be even harder to prevent scams right now because people 65 and older aren’t interacting with as many friends, neighbors and senior service providers due to efforts to slow the spread of disease. Learn more here.

          Staying Healthy During COVID-19

          Staying safe and healthy during this crisis impacts every part of our lives, but healthy eating is especially important for keeping your immune system in top condition. Here are some steps you can take to eat healthy in the time of COVID.

          Virginia Mason Receives $500,000 Grant from Hearst Foundations

          The Hearst Foundations granted $50 million in emergency funding to more than 100 U.S. medical, humanitarian and cultural organizations across the United States that are severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Only six organizations in the Seattle area – Virginia Mason, University of Washington Medicine, Northwest Harvest, Pacific Northwest Ballet Association, Seattle Art Museum and Seattle Opera – were chosen to receive this funding. Virginia Mason was awarded $500,000.

          Message from Chairman and CEO Gary S. Kaplan, MD, and President Suzanne Anderson

          The following message to all team members is a summary from the April 9 town hall:

          None of us could have ever imagined something like this taking place … a pandemic that affected the organization for weeks, and now is promising to affect us and our entire community for months.

          One paradox we’ve come to appreciate and accept is that we can be very busy in some areas and yet we are extremely light or slow on procedures and surgical cases since we stopped doing elective procedures in compliance with Gov. Jay Inslee’s order.

          Our team members who have been furloughed are important to us, and they have and will continue to make critical contributions to the organization. We look forward to the time when everyone is back to work full time.

          One of the questions asked is “when is that going to be?” And although we can’t tell for sure, we do see light at the end of the tunnel. As a team member wrote, “I truly believe Virginia Mason will get through this even stronger than before.” We are finding silver linings. That’s the Virginia Mason way.

          Also often asked is “will we be able to weather this?” And the short answer is yes. We know we will be able to weather this and we know it won’t be without change. But also with improving and learning and getting even better as we come out of this. We will not only be able to weather this crisis, we will be stronger.

          Firefighters Exchange Thanks with Our Team Members

          It was a day of thanks as members of the Seattle Fire Department and American Medical Response visited Virginia Mason to show their gratitude for the amazing work our teams are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic. In return, our team members showed a huge display of appreciation for those first responders. Community spirit was alive and well on our downtown Seattle campus! Here are just a few photos from the day.

          Firefighters Exchange Thanks with Our Team Members

          Message from Retirees and Emeritus Physicians

          The following message to all team members was sent on behalf of the Virginia Mason Retirees Association and Emeritus Physicians:

          We stand with you, Virginia Mason.

          Know that while you are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, answering the call to protect the health and safety of our community, you are in our hearts and on our minds. In Virginia Mason's 100-year history, we have managed other medical crises, but nothing quite like COVID-19. Thank you for your incredible, selfless, awe-inspiring efforts. This is Virginia Mason's finest hour, and we're proud of you.

          We stand with you. We stand together.

          Questions About Unemployment?

          We know the unemployment process can be confusing. We've answered some of the most commonly-asked questions here. If you have other questions — especially about your specific claim — please contact the Washington Employment Security Department at 800-318-6022 or 877-504-5607. Human Resources can provide information about Virginia Mason policies, but cannot provide advice or guidance on unemployment.

          When you apply for standby unemployment, you may receive an automated notice that your request is denied. Your request has NOT been denied — or approved — yet. The Employment Security Department is updating their computer system to reflect COVID-19 changes, and not all the changes have been made yet. Please do NOT refile your standby request after receiving the denial letter. For now, the Employment Security Department will automatically review all standby denials.

          Filling Open Positions During the COVID-19 Crisis

          We are holding on hiring for most positions during this crisis. We're doing everything we can to get team members on reduced schedules or furloughs back to work as demand increases. If a position needs to be filled during the crisis, we'll first try to match someone on a reduced schedule or furlough who is qualified to temporarily fill the position. This initiative benefits our team members and our patients — the recognized quality of our team members make them ideal candidates to quickly step into temporary assignments, so we can continue to provide extraordinary care to our patients.

          New PopUp Market for Grab-and-Go Groceries

          Shopping during the crisis has been challenging, and we’re doing our part to make it a bit easier. The new PopUp Grocery Market in the Four Seasons Café stocks basic grocery items like bread, rice, oatmeal, flour, sugar and even toilet paper. Depending on team member interest, items like milk, eggs, butter and produce may be added soon.

          The market is open to all team members, whether they’re currently working or not. We hope to see you at the Market during regular café hours, 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., seven days a week.

          Feeling Stressed or Anxious? Connect with a Counselor

          We know this has been an incredibly stressful time, so we've activated a new online mental health resource for our team members experiencing anxiety or stress from COVID-19. Our partners, Wellspring and BetterHelp, will connect with a counselor at your convenience, in a way that works for you – messaging, chat, phone or video. Start by calling the EAP Access Line: (800) 553-7798.

          Livestreamed Harp Music is ‘Calm in the Storm’

          When Virginia Mason harpist Jessica Gallo could no longer play for patients inside the medical center, she turned to technology for a solution. Jessica, a Certified Music Practitioner, began playing for Virginia Mason patients and families more than five years ago, visiting different areas each week including Critical Care, Progressive Care, the Oncology Infusion Center and the Buck Pavilion lobby.

          With patients and team members needing the soothing notes of Jessica's harp more than ever, she decided to go virtual, with a little help from her 13-year-old son as her cameraman. Now patients and care teams can use their devices to catch Jessica's performances live, twice a day, or play them later. The livestream is interactive, so listeners can comment or even send in requests. Jessica has begun creating videos on YouTube of requested music to enjoy anytime.

          In Jessica's first week of streaming, grateful team members have already responded, on behalf of the patients and themselves. According to one care team member, the afternoon performance offers every listener "some calm in the storm."

          Hear Jessica's livestreamed harp performances Monday – Friday, at 1 p.m. and 9 p.m., on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. (To search YouTube, enter "Jessica Gallo Harpist.") Catch Jessica's video interview recently on Good Morning America.