Experience Healthcare 2019


Ellensburg, Wash. (July 31, 2019) – During the week of July 15, ten Ellensburg High School (EHS) students participated in a challenging and rewarding week learning about what it takes to run a community healthcare system. Through Kittitas Valley Healthcare’s (KVH) first annual “Experience Healthcare” event, students were immersed in the daily operations of a hospital and clinic system.  In addition to the traditional patient care services offered in a hospital and clinic setting, participants also learned about the ‘behind the scenes’ services such as Health Information Management, Patient Financial Services, Human Resources, Engineering and Environmental Services.

Throughout the week, these EHS seniors participated in many hands-on learning opportunities.   In the KVH Hospital, students practiced safe patient handling techniques and hands-only CPR.  In the KVH Pharmacy, students practiced dispensing medicines through counting M&M’s. In the KVH Laboratory, they learned how to type their blood. KVH Food and Nutrition Services Director and Registered Dietician Jim Gallagher tough them how to perform glucose testing. And, in KVH Family Medicine – Ellensburg, a clinic nurses led them through the process of removing sutures and staples by practicing on an orange.

Towards the end of the week, EHS students were joined by students in the Central Washington University Paramedic Program to witness a full-scale Emergency Department trauma drill.  Working in collaboration with the Ellensburg Police Department and Airlift Northwest, students were able to see first-hand what happens when a bystander calls 911 for a patient with a severe traumatic injury. The exercise began with a mock 911 call to KITTCOM reporting a bicyclist hit by car.  Once the drill started, observers witnessed the entire process beginning with the arrival of an EPD officer, the ambulance transport to ER, the treatment and stabilization in the KVH Emergency Department to a hand-off to Airlift Northwest for “transfer” to a Level 1 Trauma Center. The drill ended on the KVH helipad with the students learning about the medical transport helicopter, its features and the training required to be a helicopter medic. From the very start of the drill to when the helicopter left KVH, the students had wide eyes and amazement on their faces. 

“I hope the students took away all the work that goes into care of an emergency patient and the different roles needed,” said Dede Utley, registered nurse and Director of Emergency Services. “Another valuable lesson I hope they saw is the human aspect of what we do, the impact we have on people’s lives and the difference we make every day.”

The final day of Experience Healthcare brought in representatives from area colleges to talk about the educational pathways needed to prepare them for a career in Healthcare, as well as stories from current employees on how they came to work at KVH.  Students learned about scholarship opportunities and what they can do before graduation to make their career dreams a reality. 

“Susan Penick, KVH RN, and I have been doing a similar program with Pre-Med students at Central Washington University for 20 years,” said Karen Schock, Director of Volunteer Services. “I have been fortunate enough to see a student go through the program, go to medical school and come back to practice in our community…that’s why we are doing this.”  Through this partnership with Ellensburg High School, KVH is hoping to build a program that will impact these students’ lives and career paths in years to come.

Experience Healthcare 2019 was made possible through a collaboration between Kittitas Valley Healthcare and the Ellensburg School District.  Students who participated in the 40 hour program received 0.5 credits for Healthcare Immersion.

For more information on “Behind the Scenes” Services at KVH, see https://www.kvhealthcare.org/news/Category/Behind-the-Scenes/