Compassion in times of crisis

Recently, one of the communities we serve was struck by the type of tragedy you pray will never happen in your home town. It was a school shooting in Marysville, Wash., that eventually took the lives of five teenagers.

Today on the blog, I simply want to pause and ask all of you to join me in continuing to keep the people of Marysville in your thoughts and prayers. Though it has been two weeks since the event and it is no longer in the national spotlight, I don’t want to forget that one of our communities remains in profound pain and continues to grieve.


I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the caregivers of Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Wash., (PRMCE) which serves Marysville and is located minutes away from the school. Their response to the incident was exceptional on every level. They brought to bear the skills, expertise and resources needed to address the medical needs of the situation.

But they also demonstrated incredible compassion and respect for the victims and their families. When I rounded at PRMCE a few days after the shooting, I was deeply moved by the professionalism and grace of everyone on staff. They clearly brought our Mission to life at a time when those affected were at their most vulnerable and needed us more than ever.

Responding to another crisis: A possible Ebola exposure in Oregon

We saw the same embodiment of our Mission just a week later in Oregon when we were called to respond to another potential crisis: a possible Ebola exposure in the Portland area. When a woman from Liberia needed to be hospitalized and evaluated for the virus, the team at Providence Milwaukie Hospital, just outside of Portland, didn’t hesitate to respond.

More than 20 caregivers volunteered for the assignment, putting their hours of Ebola training and preparation into action. I was proud of how meticulous and diligent they were in caring for the individual while ensuring the safety of everyone in the hospital.

But equally important, at a time when Ebola is stigmatized and feared, our caregivers went out of their way to ensure the patient didn’t feel like an outcast and that we addressed her emotional and spiritual needs during this stressful time, as well as her physical ones. They supported her overall well-being and even brought her flowers and hugs when her test results came back negative.

Our Providence family

With the events of recent weeks, it has been touching and inspiring to receive words of support from so many of you across the system. It shows that we are all part of the same family. That spirit of compassion and rising to the occasion is the common thread that connects us all, and it’s the reason cities and rural areas across the Western United States have come to count on Providence as a vital and trusted resource in the community. I have never been more proud of our Providence family.

  1. Is this the sort of compassion, and dedication to mission and values that prompted the closure of a clinic in the Matsu Valley, leaving it’s patients, providers and clinic staff out to dry??

    • Thank you for sharing your concern. Please know that I share your disappointment, especially related to the effect this decision has on our fellow caregivers at Providence Medical Group Mat-Su, many of whom have served the community for years.

      The decision to close this service was the result of a five-month-long discernment process that included a wide variety of perspectives, including operations, Mission, clinicians and finance, among others. While many concerns and related solutions were discussed, the core issue was the abundance of primary care options in the Mat-Su. The community has an excess of providers, many more than is needed to meet community need for primary care. Ultimately, the community’s needs are met through independent physician practices, which led to declining patient volumes at PMG Mat-Su.

      All of this is little consolation to those most impacted – our caregivers and our patients. Our hope is that PMG Mat-Su caregivers are able to secure employment in other areas of Providence Health & Services Alaska, and we are actively working with those impacted caregivers. We are also communicating with each affected patient, providing referrals to other community providers and access to their medical records. For additional information, please see the internal announcement shared last month.

  2. Thank you, Rod, for visiting us after the Marysville shooting. It meant so much. Our NWR community of caregivers have been through a lot with the Oso landslide last spring and now a school shooting this fall. Both of these events have affected our caregivers deeply and it is comforting to know that when we’ve been called to serve in tragic circumstances, our Providence family is holding us up with prayer and helpful service. I honestly felt strengthened in my spirit that fateful Friday of the shooting and knew Providence was supporting us.

    I’m personally grateful for all the help we received from the system communications team. With Colleen Wadden, Melissa Tizon, Carly Golden and Elizabeth Brophy coming to help, we managed all the media requests and communication needs. The Digital team too with Paul Stone, Chris Longhurst, Keith Robert and Annette Columbini, played an important role in providing effective communications throughout the week. So, thank you to everyone for your support. The teamwork within our four walls and across the system was phenomenal.

    • Hi Cheri – You and the team up in Everett did a great job managing through a very difficult situation. I’m glad the system communication team was available to support you. Take care. -Rod

  3. Rod,

    The Marysville tragedy occurred while one of our surgical mission teams was in Retalhuleu, Guatemala. Upon hearing the news, I received a request for prayers from one of my CNO colleagues who was personally touched by the event. The name of the student she knew, Gia, and other students affected immediately became part of our prayers as a team while we were attempting to relieve pain and suffering of the Guatemalans we served. It struck me that while we were in a place we might associate with suffering, even greater suffering was occurring at home in another Providence community.
    I suspect I was not the only member of the mission team who found even deeper wells of compassion from which to draw as we reflected on what brings us all together — serving and caring for our diverse communities.