Inside the ICU: The story behind the 4 News Now special report

Inside the ICU
4 News Now photojournalist Brian Belanger captures video inside the Providence Sacred Heart ICU
Copyright 2021

SPOKANE, Wash – In a special report Wednesday, 4 News Now cameras go to a place where cameras are rarely allowed: inside the intensive care unit of a hospital. It’s something Providence Sacred Heart never imagined they’d allow.

As the hospitalizations surged in this fifth wave of COVID-19, 4 News Now reached out to the Providence leadership team and asked if we could bring cameras inside to show the community the reality of working in healthcare during a pandemic.

“If you would have asked me two years ago, I would have said ‘Oh my gosh, we would never let cameras in our critical care unit,’” said Providence Nurse Manager and Chief Operating Officer Susan Stacey.

But, Stacey and her leadership team know this is unlike any other time.

Providence Sacred Heart has more COVID patients than any other time in the pandemic. Many who come in and need critical care never go home.

“We felt it was important for our community to see what we see every day in terms of suffering,” Stacey explained. “The suffering of our caregivers, the suffering of patients and families during this time.”

Susan Stacey Icu Quote 1

From the beginning of our discussions, the hospital staff’s goal was clear: protect patient privacy. Beyond that, they were open to letting Good Morning Northwest anchor Robyn Nance and Chief Photographer Brian Belanger show and tell what was happening during a snapshot in time on a random weekday.

While there, our journalists watched ICU staff in action and heard their heart-wrenching stories.

“I can’t imagine what they’ve been through,” Stacey said. “I’m in the building and I can’t imagine the pain they see every day.”

Stacey knows it’s hard for anyone else in the community to imagine without seeing it for themselves. The caregivers hope that seeing the reality of the critical care of COVID patients and the demand on the staff opens some minds in the community and possibly changes some hearts. They also spoke about the high number of unvaccinated patients putting an overall strain on the healthcare system.

“I hope the message is received that this is a sad time for those of us in healthcare to have a preventable disease that people are choosing not to prevent,” Stacey said.

4 News Now allowed Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center staff to review footage before airing, not to change content, but to make sure patient privacy is protected. 

EXTENDED COVERAGE: Inside the ICU on 4 News Now