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press

An Urgent Message from Physician Leaders of the Washington Health Alliance

FOR RELEASE: August 17, 2021

Contact: Karen Johnson
Phone: (816) 309-6472
Email: kjohnson@wahealthalliance.org

AN URGENT MESSAGE FROM PHYSICIAN LEADERS OF THE WASHINGTON HEALTH ALLIANCE

The Washington Health Alliance (Alliance) today released an urgent message regarding the continued threat of COVID-19 from clinical leaders of the Washington Health Alliance, most of whom are members of the organization’s Quality Improvement Committee (QIC). Included among the committee’s members are physician and clinical leaders focused on ensuring patient safety, delivering high quality care, and improving the health of populations within their organizations. In their most recent meeting on August 12th, these leaders discussed the ongoing challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. They shared with each other their greatest fears, challenges, and frustrations. On their behalf and at their urging, we shared their message with the Alliance community.

The discussion centered not only on the challenges that health care organizations are facing, but on the inextricable linkage between individual actions and the implications for our communities and health care organizations, particularly as it relates to meeting ongoing staffing needs. “We have seen throughout the pandemic that women are most likely to drop out of the workforce due to family needs. With Fall upon us and schools reopening with limited remote learning options, we are concerned by what may be coming as women also make up much of the front line health care workforce as nurses, medical assistants and housekeeping staff and hence tend to feel the pressure most directly. This will possibly worsen staffing shortages and increase the challenges in caring for patients.”  noted Dr. Kavita Chawla, Chair of the Evidence-Based Medicine Education Committee at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.

The concerns expressed by QIC members were largely consistent regardless of whether the organization was large or small, urban or rural. Adequately staffing for the continued demands placed on the health care system by COVID-19 are daunting. The message they want others to hear is that each of us can make a difference.

“We were just starting to turn the corner with COVID-19 and unfortunately, the Delta variant has set us back. The toll that COVID-19 is placing on our health care workers is substantial. The surge in cases and hospitalizations resulting from the Delta variant has added another layer to the mounting stresses placed on our health care workforce over the last eighteen months. Now is the time to double down on all the practices – vaccination, masking, social distancing – that we know work to contain the spread of the virus.”   stated Dr. Edwin Carmack, Medical Director of Quality at Confluence Health.

About the Washington Health Alliance

The Washington Health Alliance (Alliance) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit nonpartisan organization working collaboratively to transform Washington state’s health care system for the better. The Alliance brings together more than 185 committed member organizations to improve health and health care by offering a forum for critical conversation and aligned efforts by health plans, employers, union trusts, hospitals and hospital systems, health care professionals, start-up companies, consultants, consumers, and other health care partners. The Alliance believes strongly in transparency and offers trusted and credible reporting of progress on health care quality, value, pricing, and overall spending. The Alliance publishes its reports at WACommunityCheckup.org and provides guidance for consumers at OwnYourHealthWA.org so that individuals can make informed health care decisions.