From L to R: Melissa Strong (CNO), Dr. Dean Gushee (CMO) and LifeCenter Hospital Development Program Manager Korri Shimizu

Each month, LifeCenter Northwest selects a LifeSaver Award winner. This award honors and recognizes those who go above and beyond to save lives—honoring our shared values to improve donation culture and outcomes.

We are thrilled to present this month’s LifeSaver Award to Dr. Dean Gushee, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Mason General Hospital.

Mason General is a Critical Access Hospital in Shelton, Wash. Hospitals of Mason General’s size generally do not have many physicians on-call at any one time. During a recent holiday week where staffing was particularly limited, Mason General encountered a potential Donation After Circulatory Death (DCD) case.

DCD cases involve patients who have suffered devastating and irreversible injury but who do not meet formal brain death criteria. However, if the patient’s heart stops beating within a certain timeframe after withdrawal of life support, their organs can be recovered. This requires a physician to be solely dedicated to monitoring the patient for up to two hours, ready to declare circulatory death if it occurs.

Since the hospital’s ICU could not afford to lose a physician for two hours at this time, Dr. Gushee was asked if he might be willing to help out. Immediately, he came out of his office and stepped in to be the declaring physician for this case.

“It’s quite uncommon to have someone from the C-suite of hospital leadership take an active and hands-on role in a donation case, but that is exactly what Dr. Gushee did,” said LifeCenter Hospital Development Program Manager Korri Shimizu. “He really stepped up to support donation.”

In this particular case, the patient’s heart did not stop beating within the designated timeframe, so they were unable to become a donor. Sometimes, however, the most vital contributions to donation culture can happen when donation doesn’t even take place—and this was the case with Dr. Gushee.

Dr. Gushee’s actions truly exemplify Mason General’s outstanding donation culture and their longstanding commitment to honoring all donors and their families. We are proud to present him with this month’s LifeSaver Award.