Justin Fallstrom is a Harborview insider. Not a patient. Not quite a staff member. But an integral part of the medical center, nonetheless.
In 2005, Fallstrom began a three-year project with Turner Construction, supervising remodeling of Harborview Medical Center’s Emergency Department and a seismic upgrade to the east wing. “That first day was eye-opening,” he says. “I saw people coming in with severe problems and no place else to go.”
Fallstrom, whose father was deputy chief in a King County fire district, was familiar with emergency response work. He’d heard stories and seen emergency vehicles. “Now I learned what happened after the patients reach Harborview,” Fallstrom says. One day, he remembers, after a shooting in downtown Seattle, the injured were transported to Harborview. News helicopters hovered overhead, and police rushed in to secure the building. “The Emergency Department response was extremely systematic and impressive,” he recalls.
When the remodeling project finished, Fallstrom went to work for McKinstry, a construction company; he’s in the division responsible for mechanical and electrical system improvements related to energy efficiency and redundancy. His assignment: Harborview. Fallstrom ensures that Harborview’s ventilation fans and other critical infrastructure equipment work as well and efficiently as possible, all in the effort to reduce the risk of failures that could impact care.
Over time, the care given to people from all walks of life, many poor and in dire need, has made a deep impression on Fallstrom.
“Staff members approach every patient without preconceived notions,” he says. “I’ve seen families come every day over many weeks because they don’t want to leave a loved one’s bedside. It’s so difficult for those who don’t have a place to stay or money to pay for that.”
Fallstrom saw an opportunity to make a difference. Some years ago, he received a trust fund from a great uncle, and he decided to support causes he cares about. Last December, he made a gift to the medical center’s Mission of Caring Fund, which helps the UW Physicians and staff who work at Harborview provide exceptional care to everyone, regardless of their financial circumstances.
It’s what Harborview believes in. And it’s what Fallstrom, a Harborview insider, believes in, too. “I didn’t want to work anywhere else,” he says, “and I hope to be here for a long, long time.”