Message from your EMS and GH County hospitals

Grays Harbor EMS and hospitals are doing our best to help you with your urgent and emergency medical needs.

However, we need to be wise with how we are using our health care resources.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put strain on our system in several ways. We are seeing increased numbers of patients who have serious medical problems. Some of the patients are COVID positive, others are delaying health care and becoming sicker before seeking the care they need. Both hospitals are facing severe staffing shortages. While health care staffing shortages are nationwide, it is much worse in rural areas like ours.

When combined, these factors have led to a shortage of emergency care and hospital beds available in Grays Harbor County. When these shortages occur, emergency patients may have to be transported out of town to receive care. This increases time for transport which can lead to worse outcomes.

In order to be able to provide the best care to those who are having a medical emergency, we are asking people to consider how they approach their medical care.

If you think you might be having a medical emergency, please call 911.

You should never delay seeking care if you think you might be having a heart attack or stroke. Time matters.

If you arrive at an Emergency Department, you will not be turned away. It may take time, but you will be seen.

The best medical care is prevention of medical emergencies. Please see your primary care provider regularly and be attentive to your chronic medical conditions. Many emergencies can be avoided with routine care.

If you are medically able, please get a COVID vaccination. In September, Harbor Regional Health Community Hospital had 31 people admitted for COVID-19; 24 had not been vaccinated; 10 people died, and only one of them was vaccinated. You can protect yourself and your community by being vaccinated.

Getting vaccinated is the fastest and safest way to get back to a more normal life. The more we let COVID-19 persist, the longer we will be dealing with its effects.

Your local EMS are happy to evaluate you if you are worried you are having a medical emergency. You may be advised that you that you need to go to the hospital for further evaluation, depending on your symptoms, history and exam.

However, you may be advised to call your primary care provider or be seen in an Urgent Care setting if that seems to be a safe option. If you are not transported to the hospital, and your symptoms change or worsen, or you become more concerned, you are encouraged to call 911 or your doctor for further evaluation.

Grays Harbor County EMS, as well as Summit Pacific and Harbor Regional Health staff are dedicated to caring for our community especially in these challenging times. We appreciate your help and cooperation in ensuring our continued ability to do so.

Dr. Julie Buck is the EMS Medical Program Director. Dr. Ken Deitrich is the Chief Medical Officer, Summit Pacific. Dr. Anne Marie Wong is the Chief Medical Officer, Harbor Regional Health.