More than 85,000 votes were cast by South Sound Magazine readers for the 2022 Best of the South Sound. Readers chose their favorite South Sound people, places, and things, and this year’s list includes the Kaiser Permanente Olympia Medical Center for best hospital and best urgent care or walk-in facility.
Olympia Medical Center’s welcoming culture has been present in the community since the 1970s. Quite a few Kaiser Permanente members have been patients for many years. From employees personally showing patients where to go or escorting them from one health care professional to another — the warmth and care is clear, time and time again.
Taking care of our people and patients
The welcoming culture isn’t just for patients. It starts with the employees.
“You might not know someone’s name, but we smile and say ‘hi’ as we pass by in the hallways,” said Kari Corcoran, medical center manager. “Creating these relationships and taking care of each other trickles down to our patients. We’ve all taken ownership of caring for each other.”
It’s no surprise collaboration is at the top of the list with this community. Whether solving a problem or creating a new process, departments come together and include everyone involved in the work.
Even patients come together with the Olympia Medical Center teams. Following a facility refresh in 2019, Kaiser Permanente employees and patients advocated for locally created artwork and tapestries to be rehung in the facility.
“Hearing the community feedback on bringing the artwork back really struck a chord,” said Corcoran. “We got a sense of people feeling heard and that their opinions mattered.”
While Olympia Medical Center isn’t an inpatient hospital, South Sound Magazine readers still value the many outpatient specialties available. From allergy to eye care, dermatology to sports medicine, and cardiology to cancer care — the vast array of health care needs is all coordinated in one location.
Best urgent care or walk-in facility
January 2022 marked the one-year anniversary of Olympia Medical Center’s urgent care hours expanding to 24/7. These extended hours help reduce some of the traffic in the emergency room at the nearest hospital — just half a mile down the street.
“We’re proud to be able to care for the community around the clock,” said Annie Vander Veen, urgent care manager. “Being available all hours really helps when the unexpected happens in the middle of the night. It gives parents with sick kids, members with unexpected injuries or pain, and families peace of mind that we’re here for them.”
The number of patients seen in the Olympia Medical Center Urgent Care department nearly doubled from an average of 70 per day to more than 120 per day after the hours changed to 24/7. To prepare for more patients, Kaiser Permanente built 8 new exam rooms. We updated how we identify patients with minor illnesses or injuries so they can be seen and on their way more quickly. Patients with more serious concerns can stay up to 24 hours so that the team might turn their condition around and reduce the need for a hospital admission.
“We look forward to continuing to serve the Olympia community in the years to come. We’re so pleased to receive this honor from those we serve,” said Corcoran.