EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland. Kailan Manandic/staff photo

EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland. Kailan Manandic/staff photo

Preparing for safety: Making EvergreenHealth even more earthquake ready

In the event of a large-scale earthquake, EvergreenHealth is prepared to provide critical emergency health care services to those in the community and beyond.

  • Thursday, April 18, 2019 5:00pm
  • Opinion

By Brad Younggren

Special to the Reporter

Across the Northwest, businesses and residents are taking steps to prepare for the major Cascadia earthquake that is predicted to hit our region during our lifetime. As this community’s medical center, EvergreenHealth plays a leading role in disaster preparedness efforts as well.

Disaster preparedness and our facility’s seismic safety are at the center of EvergreenHealth’s strategic growth initiative, EverHealthy, which seeks to strengthen the health system in several key areas to ensure we can continue to grow alongside the community, providing care that meets patients’ and families’ evolving health care needs.

In the event of a large-scale earthquake, EvergreenHealth is prepared to provide critical emergency health care services to those in our community and beyond. All of EvergreenHealth’s existing facilities are safe, as they were built in compliance with codes in place at the time of their construction. However, we are continuously looking for ways to become even safer — new information is constantly informing how experts plan for disaster readiness and our hospital has an opportunity to become the one of the foremost emergency resources in the state.

After the predicted nine-plus magnitude earthquake, we are imagining a world in which residents are unable to cross bridges or access many of our roads that connect the Eastside to Seattle and beyond. Fortunately, EvergreenHealth is situated in arguably one of the best geographical locations in King County for withstanding structural damage in the event of an earthquake. But to remain a viable resource to the community, we need to invest in upgrades to ensure that our hospital cannot only withstand damage, but that we can continue treating patients and admit them to our care during and after that critical time.

EverHealthy will enable EvergreenHealth to serve as a central community resource for post-disaster care by ensuring that we have adequate space and resources to admit and treat patients from all over King County and beyond, without having to transfer them elsewhere for care. Furthermore, EverHealthy will help us reach our goal of meeting the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Level of Immediate Occupancy, preparing our facility for an influx of patients seeking trauma care.

The community will have the opportunity to vote on the EverHealthy bond measure on April 23. If approved, it will fund these critical upgrades to EvergreenHealth’s facility safety and disaster readiness, along with providing enhancements to our Critical Care Unit and Family Maternity Center, and it will provide infrastructure and technology systems upgrades, as well.

As an emergency care physician, I know the benefits that a stable, secure environment can provide for patients. By investing in EvergreenHealth’s disaster readiness, EverHealthy will ensure the health system can care for patients in this community and beyond when the region needs us the most.

Brad Younggren, MD, is the medical director of trauma and emergency preparedness for EvergreenHealth.

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