Boots on the ground at St. Joseph Hospital


We continue providing Dr. Ming Lin’s personal views of his experience at St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham, which is part of the PeachHealth chain of hospitals. Dr. Lin returned on Tuesday, March 24, from South Dakota where he was working with the health services at Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. The following is Dr. Lin’s most recent post on his facebook page (fb). Look up “Ming Lin” to find it on facebook. We are reposting his views here for those who do not use facebook, and as a permanent record of his posts. Facebook posts can, and do, disappear. You can see several posts from the past week in the article Dr Lin’s Letter here on NWCitizen.

Dr. Lin has worked at St Joseph hospital as an emergency room doctor for 17 years. He has also worked at many other hospitals for shorter periods of time, and is well qualified to present his views. He is greatly helping our community learn what is really happening, as our official local agencies, including the Whatcom United Command, fail to inform us, or worse, provide misleading information. (I will be writing on that soon.) A Bellingham City Council member told me that our presenting Dr. Lin’s posts here was helpful in getting Charles Prosper, the chief executive officer of PeachHealth, to agree to answer questions at the council meeting two days ago. Unfortunately, Prosper was a no-show and when asked for an explanation, the mayor’s mumbled response was unintelligible. We will try to learn Prosper’s reason and report on it soon.

Here is his post from this morning, Wed, Mar 25.


I do not want to be the one to yell fire as the day started with with optimism. I joked with nurses that our hospital is a ” mini WUHAN” in a quiet ED. I connected purchasing and SIMMA to provide us with more PPE devices. Perhaps COVID had scared people off. The ED volume was down.
But… somehow the numbers did not add up.

Most were wearing mask but some were told not to. Screening is done in the waiting room and a tent is placed as decoration The utmost was not being done to prevent staff exposure. Nurses were told to ration and given inadequate gowns (non isolation ones ) to protect themselves. Brave Nurses are inventing their own protocols to adapt to the situation. Central supply had ONLY 1 weeks worth of PPE equipment. Which is puzzling as I have received numerous emails from vendors.

I worked in Tyvek , gloves and mask.. Its hot and hard to breath. Its impossible to remain sterile and full PPE is even more miserable. Despite potential COVID exposure (every patient is a potential) staff were free to roam the hospital. There is no area for all us to decontaminate, no scrubs or laundry. No way for us to prevent us from becoming the vector for our family and our community.

Northwest LAB will be opening up their “rapid” testing this week. But that will only minimally benefit those who need it the least, those who can self isolate. Our two tier health system and public health system is disjointed and we are surrounded by petri dishes of nursing, residential, mental health homes and shelters. Reliance on Quest lab makes it extremely difficult to anticipate.

Healthcare workers are afraid to speak up, I am told Peacehealth censures them and people are afraid to loose their job. Chuck does not show up to the public forum to calm the public, he is assisting in an emergency outbreak at a local Nursing Home. I’m sure his bedpan changing skills are needed.

COVID has already slaughtered the Celtics and Lakers and our HS team is next.
“Monitoring"and “Reacting” is not what we need. Planning and Preparation for an enemy we cannot see and anticipate is the solution. This should have been done several weeks ago.

John tells me I have crossed the “Rubicon,” , I know that Brutus and Cassius lurk nearby. I have put 30 years of my reputation on line and I pray that I am wrong.

I am overwhelmed by txts and emails. I have no time to respond. I have not even talked to my kids, kiss my wife or pet my dog since i have been home. I realize that I have already yelled “Fire” long time ago. I’m just an emergency room physician who can only care for a handful at a time. I cannot do this by myself.

My friend John told me I have already crossed the “Rubicon,” I know Brutus and Cassius lurks nearby. I have just put 30 years of my reputation on line if I am wrong, and II pray that I am.

One of my last txt I receive before I went to bed was from my boss.. He asks how was my shift: I txt back ” I wish I was on the “Diamond Princess.”

Thank you everybody for their support! Thursday is my next shift.

- - - - -

About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Bob Burr

Mar 26, 2020

Dr. Lin is my new hero. This disgusting picture of non-preparedness is being echoed all over our country. I hope we learn from this; and, at the risk of being a climate extremist, this is just the beginning of the type of societal disruption to expect. This and some future ones will be human against virus; however, as the climate chaos accelerates, it will be human against human in the battle for scarce resources. I pray for my grandchildren. They do not deserve it. As a society, we are insouciant and future generations will not look kindly on us.



Dick Conoboy

Mar 26, 2020

The stated reason for the no-show was revealed during the meeting.  Prosper claimed that he was dealing with the situation at Shuksan.  


Larry Horowitz

Mar 27, 2020


To comment, Log In or Register