In early 2020, all of our lives began to change. As Washington State documented the first COVID-19 cases in the United States, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, and the race for a vaccine kicked off, we quickly realized it was just the beginning of a long and challenging journey.
Looking back, I remember how frightening it was when the first cases of community transmission were reported in our state. But I also remember how quickly the health care community mobilized in response. We were faced with an entirely unfamiliar disease that called us to come together for the patients and larger communities that were depending on us.
Every hospital and provider wanted the same thing: to ensure people continued to have access to all kinds of health care and to protect those delivering care from infection. We at WSHA are all so grateful to all the health care providers and leaders and the overall health care community that made this coordinated response possible.
Throughout the year, hospitals have remained committed to collaboration and ensuring every member of WSHA could continue to serve its community. Most importantly, our shared agreement that no hospital would reach crisis standards alone is remarkable and saved many lives. This agreement also gave the Governor the confidence to establish a statewide, rather than a county-or region-wide, ICU occupancy metric. Hospitals have unselfishly shared PPE, knowledge, staff, equipment, medications, vaccine and knowledge throughout the pandemic. Hospital leaders have repeatedly directed that the hospitals most in need should be prioritized. This collaboration has resulted in critical resources and funding that has sustained many.
We know COVID-19 is not over yet, but we hope there is an end in sight. The COVID-19 response effort has illustrated how strong the Washington health care community can be when we work in unison. As we move forward in this work, we remain ready to support you.