That warm feeling North Star Lodge is known for got a little warmer and cozier recently when Stewart Subaru, partnering with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, donated 80 blankets for cancer patients at North Star Lodge. The gift included notes of encouragement from Stewart Subaru customers, written when the promotion was displayed at the dealership.
Thank you, Stewart Subaru and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society!
Ashley Cullison is a Michigan girl. Or she thought she was.
Ashley graduated from nursing school there and got her first job as an R.N. at a hospital in Grand Rapids. Ashley loves her family and her part of the country, but something was pulling at her. A yearning to see more.
“There’s so much more to this country that I had never seen,” she says, leaning in with enthusiasm. “For some reason I felt like the PNW was calling my name. So I looked into travel nursing. I liked the opportunities it presented so I talked to Travel Nurse Across America. I interviewed them: How are you going to help me? I mean, I was going to completely uproot my life.
“I decided to give it a shot.”
Her first call? Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital in fall 2016. Then it was Modesto, Calif., for three months. In April 2017 Ashley was back here. By this time “here” was really starting to feel like home. “I had really good connections at work and from church here,” Ashley says. Her contract was extended three times, but she finally had to leave or risk losing her traveler status. “I then went to Sacramento, but while I was there I decided I wanted to give Yakima more than chunks of my time.
On May 7, 2018, Ashley Cullison joined the team at Virginia Mason Memorial full time. Until she moves into her townhome, Ashley is staying with nurse Tiffini Gunkel, her husband Brad (a VMM network analyst) and their family. The Gunkels provided a home for Ashley last year, too.
“I feel very blessed,” she says. “While I was in Sacramento my grandfather passed away in Michigan. When that happened I had more co-workers from Memorial text or call me to see if I was OK then from anyplace else I worked.
“Coming back it’s been fun to explore the full spectrum of Memorial’s float pool. I think being a traveler made me well-suited for this.
“The day that I got here my relationship with management in the float pool has been great. I felt very welcomed. For Kim (Krapf) to extend the job offer to me, it means a lot that they thought of me what I thought of them.
“I worked both day and night shifts here as a traveler, and in so many departments. But no matter where I get sent here I feel like I have friends. I understand that nursing has stressful days anywhere. But the nursing culture here is so different than what I experience at the other places. Here they say, ‘Hey, can I help you out? You’re behind, I’m behind, let’s get caught up together.’
“I’ve wanted to be a nurse since I was 3 years old. Yakima sucked me in.”
Virginia Mason Memorial recognized as among most sustainable health care facilities in the country with four awards
Practice Greenhealth Emerald Award honors Virginia Mason Memorial for its superior sustainability programs
(YAKIMA, WA) – In recognition for outstanding accomplishments in sustainability, Virginia Mason Memorial has received four awards this year from Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care. The awards are given each year to honor environmental achievements in the health care sector.
The Greenhealth Emerald Award is presented to hospitals that demonstrate superior sustainability programs. The award recognizes Virginia Mason Memorial’s ongoing commitment to improving its environmental performance and maintaining a top standard of excellence in sustainability.
The Circles of Excellence Award, given to Virginia Mason Memorial for Healthy Food in Health Care, honors hospitals for outstanding performance in one specific area, such as reducing use of toxic chemicals or sourcing food sustainably. These awards highlight hospitals that are driving innovation in sustainability. There can be up to 10 designees selected for each Circle of Excellence category.
The Healthy Food category award highlights leaders in sustainable food services, including meat and sugar-sweetened beverage reduction, healthier meat procurement, local sourcing, food waste prevention and management. Top hospitals have written policies and an educational strategy that addresses the food system as a critical component in an overall sustainability plan.
The Greening the Operating Room Recognition Award acknowledges hospital sustainability programs that drive environmental stewardship within the surgical suite.
The Making Medicine Mercury-Free Award, new for Virginia Mason Memorial this year, is given to health-care facilities that have virtually eliminated mercury and have policies in place to prevent it from re-entering the facility. Mercury is one of the most hazardous chemicals and is associated with many health risks.
“We are proud to be named one of the top 10 hospitals in the country for our work toward providing healthy food for our patients, employees and visitors. We will continue to make sustainability a top priority everywhere we can, from eliminating mercury from our facilities to greening our operating rooms and more,” said CEO Russ Myers.
“We embarked on our environmental sustainability journey four years ago, and I’m really proud of our staff and leadership,” said Kate Gottlieb, Sustainability Program coordinator. “I can’t wait to see how our work impacts Yakima and the health of our community.”
Virginia Mason Memorial strives to serve food to patients, visitors and staff that is local, organic and sustainable whenever possible. Memorial buys meat and marine-certified seafood that are free of antibiotics and hormones when possible. In the past three years, Virginia Mason Memorial’s garden, on the hospital campus, has provided 12,000 pounds of produce that was used in the cafeteria and served to patients.
In addition, Virginia Mason Memorial collected over 250 tons of recycling on the hospital’s main campus in 2017. Energy use was reduced 3.2 percent.
In 2017, the Memorial OR diverted 16,498 pounds of medical waste from landfills through reduction and reprocessing devices with Stryker’s Sustainability Solutions. Also, a sock recycling program, in which lightly used socks are washed and donated to the Union Gospel Mission, was also started.
The awards will be presented at the Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence Awards Gala on May 9 in San Diego at the CleanMed Conference & Exhibition.
For more about sustainability efforts at Virginia Mason Memorial go to https://www.yakimamemorial.org/sustainability.asp.
About Virginia Mason Memorial
Part of the Virginia Mason Health System, Virginia Mason Memorial is a 226-bed, acute-care, nonprofit, community hospital serving Central Washington’s Yakima Valley. Virginia Mason Memorial includes primary care practices and specialty care services including high-quality cardiac care; cancer care through North Star Lodge; breast health at `Ohana Mammography Center; acute hospice and respite care at Cottage in the Meadow, winner of the Circle of Life Award from the American Hospital Association for innovative palliative and end-of-life care; pain management at Water’s Edge; an advanced NICU unit, the only place in Central Washington that offers specialty care for at-risk infants; advanced services for children with special health care needs at Children’s Village; and The Memorial Foundation, a separate 501c(3) organization that raises funds for innovative health care programs in the Yakima Valley.
About Practice Greenhealth
Practice Greenhealth is the nation’s leading health care community dedicated to transforming health care worldwide so that it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice. To learn more about Practice Greenhealth visit www.practicegreenhealth.org.
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Nash Mazza was used to working long days jam-packed with a hefty load of stress. But this one day, Feb. 26, 2016, (he’ll never forget it) Nash felt a sharp pain in his left arm. Tightness and pain in his chest. Nash, 41 years old, was having a heart attack.
“At my age, you don’t think about that,” he said.
Fortunately, as the director of environmental services for Virginia Mason Memorial hospital, he didn’t have far to go for help. Staff called a Code Blue and, using his office chair as an ambulance, wheeled him directly from his office into the Emergency Department.
Nash made it. However, doctors discovered he was suffering from severe blockage in his coronary arteries. On March 3 he had open-heart surgery, a quintuple bypass.
Nash got the message. “If I had this at home, I probably would have died,” he says.
Then he made a plan. Almost 12 months later he’d lost 70 pounds and became that guy who begins his days with an hour of cardio, heads to the gym after work and plans healthy menus for every meal.
Nash’s cardiologist, Dr. Dave Krueger of the Yakima Heart Center, is passionate about drilling home his message of a healthy lifestyle as the best way to ward off heart health issues. “I like preventing sudden death,” he says.
Major cardiovascular diseases – heart disease and stroke – are the leading cause of death in Yakima County and throughout the United States. High cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure are the three leading factors.
“We exercise less than we think. We eat more than we think,” says Krueger. “But you really do need to change your life. That means 45 minutes of exercise every day, eating a healthy diet – and absolutely no smoking. I don’t care if you’re 18 or 80! If you exercise every day you’ll feel better, live longer and happier, and, you’ll be more aware of how you feel.”
Of the 1,000 people who die suddenly in America of cardiovascular disease each day, half had warning signs. Nash had a big one in autumn 2015. He went to get a new prescription for his glasses and the exam showed eye trauma. “Hardening of the arteries,” says Krueger. “The back of your eye has small arteries; you can actually see the hardening.”
Mazza knew he should go see his doctor. But he was busy. He had a staff of 90 and hardly enough time to eat. When he did, it was fast food and Coke Cola. He also knew about his family history: A grandmother and two uncles died of heart attacks. His birth mother has diabetes.
Nash stands 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 280 pounds. He knew he was overweight, but he still didn’t think he could have a heart attack. But the signs were there. The day before, Nash woke up with a heartburn kind of feeling. The day it happened, he felt “weird.”
But that’s all behind him now, and Nash’s cardiologist, Dr. Krueger, would like everyone to know that even with inherited traits for heart disease, “You can change your life. A healthy lifestyle is the best medicine.”
MaryKathleen Carpenter did not like going to the doctor. A lot. “All of my life I’ve hated going. My back and my knee go out occasionally, and I have a bad hip. But no matter what problem I had – my knee, whatever – the doctor would say it was because of my weight. They wouldn’t even consider anything else.”
MaryKathleen felt dismissed. And judged. But her health problems persisted, and her family convinced her to try again. “They said, if you don’t go to the doctor you won’t ever find out.”
So, reluctantly, she went. And, boy, was it an eye-opener. “All of my doctors said I was overweight, but when I requested my medical records it said, “obese.
“It said ‘obese.’ “
And that was it for MaryKathleen, 5-feet-11-inches tall and 278 pounds. One of her doctors had recommended Virginia Mason Memorial’s Diabetes Prevention Program, and she went.
“Everybody always said, ‘You’re big.’ That’s just how it was,” she says. “I was 5-11 in fourth grade.
“I’ve tried diets all my life. When I started the program I thought, ‘I don’t know if I can do this the rest of my life. Now I can’t see me not doing it. I promised myself when I started that I wasn’t going to make any changes to my eating habits that I did not want to.”
There’s a bag of broccoli on her desk and a phone in her hand; it’s open to the MyFitnessPal app. “Now I focus on looking at the nutrients I need: potassium, proteins, fiber, calcium and iron. That broccoli, it’s full of potassium and fiber.
“In the program, you need to increase activity by 50 minutes a week, and you’ve got to track fat and calories. I absolutely adore tracking: I did it for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day. I gives me the control I need.”
Also on New Year’s Eve, MaryKathleen, age 46, and her husband went out to welcome in 2018. MaryKathleen, 90 pounds lighter, wore her freshman high school homecoming dress, a form-fitting creamy white number with sequins.
MaryKathleen, however, does not adore physical fitness. That part she’s doing her way. “I don’t care how much you yell at me, I don’t care how much you tell me, I’m not joining a gym. What I do is walk during my breaks and at lunch. And I park in the farthest spot away in parking lots.”
As MaryKathleen closes out her year-long journey through Virginia Mason Memorial’s Diabetes Prevention Program she feels empowered and in charge. “The program gave me direction. It’s given me a method. And I’m not the only one. It gives you other people to share with.
“There aren’t a lot of things I take time away from my family to do for myself. This taught me that if I want to do something, I can do it. I now have the knowledge and power to make a knowing decision.”
Virginia Mason Memorial hospital has received both the 2017 Organ Donation Achievement Award and the Organ Donation Referral Achievement Award from LifeCenter Northwest. The federally designated organ procurement organization serves Alaska, Montana, North Idaho, and Washington.
VMM is one of 15 hospitals in this four-state area to receive the donation achievement award, and one of just 6 to get the referral achievement award.
If you would like to register to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor, please visit www.lcnw.org.
National Get Fit Don’t Sit Day, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association, is your opportunity to get up and get moving!
The ADA recommends breaking up sitting with three or more minutes of physical activity every 30 minutes.
So, take a walk, do some sit-ups or jumping jacks.
Just get out of that chair every half hour!
Virginia Mason Memorial’s executive chef Jason Patel is one of five finalists in Practice Greenhealth’s Health Care Culinary Contest from among hospitals across the country. His recipe for plant-based butternut squash enchiladas was chosen for local and sustainable sourcing and providing a meal that is healthy for people and the planet. Practice Greenhealth is the nation’s leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care. The winner will be announced May 9 in San Diego.