Organization Newsletter

March 2015

In this issue...

  1. 2015 WRHA Award Winners to Be Honored at Rural Health Conference
  2. Student Constituency Group Launches Liaison Program
  3. Demographics, Distribution, and Education History of Washington's Physicians Studied in New Report
  4. Kittitas Valley Healthcare Celebrates 50 Years
  5. WSU Spokane Health Policy and Administration Master's Program
  6. A Trip to the ER Results in a Flight to Spokane
  7. Expanded Orthotics & Prosthetics Services at Spokane Shriners Hospital 
  8. Life Flight Network Will Base a 24/7 Medical Helicopter in Astoria beginning May 15, 2015
  9. St. Luke's Clinical Education Series - Available Via Telehealth


Welcome to the March 2015 issue of the Washington Rural Health Association e-Newsletter. This month marks one of the biggest events in WRHA's annual calendar with the 28th NW Regional Rural Health Conference on March 18-19th. The annual WRHA Award Luncheon and WRHA's General Membership Meeting are scheduled during the conference on Wednesday, March 18th. For more information on the conference, click here.

Inside this issue you will find news and information from our members and community partners from across the state of Washington. If you would like to submit your own story, please click here.

About WRHA 

The WRHA e-newsletter is a publication of Washington Rural Health Association, a not-for-profit association composed of individual and organization members who share a common interest in rural health. This e-newsletter seeks to disseminate news and information of interest to rural health professionals and stakeholders to help establish a state and national network of rural health care advocates.

WRHA Members

WRHA members include administrators, educators, students, researchers, government agencies and workers, physicians, hospitals, clinics, migrant and community clinics, public health departments, insurers, professional associations and educational institutions. If you are interested in joining or renewing your membership with WRHA click here.

2015 WRHA Award Winners to Be Honored at
Rural Health Conference


Submitted by Bobby Jones
[email protected]

Each year during the Northwest Regional Rural Health Conference, WRHA members and friends gather to celebrate exceptional individuals and their contributions to rural communities and rural health. Four awards are being presented to six deserving individuals on March 18, 2015 at the Annual WRHA Awards Luncheon at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park in Spokane, WA.

The Mary Selecky Friend of Rural Health Award – Brenda Suiter

Brenda Suiter was nominated by Mary Selecky because she is a consummate advocate for rural health.

Brenda was a staff leader at the Washington Hospital Association. She has since moved to the federal level at the US Department of Health and Human Services. She has a passion for rural health and the improvement of the health systems and services in rural communities. She has learned the issues that matter most to rural health and identified the right community spokesman for the right circumstances. She encouraged; she taught; she listened and she learned. Brenda knew when to step into the spotlight and when to be in the background. She enthused individuals and crowds. Her passion was infectious. She identified leaders and encouraged their growth and she learned from leaders and anyone who could advance the rural experience. Brenda has brought together regulators and those who are regulated in settings where disagreements could be aired and set the stage for resolution.

She has been able to effectively bring together her background in recreational therapy and her Masters of Business Administration to optimize care and services, and earned the respect and admiration of her peers in the process.

The Dr. John Anderson Memorial Award for Outstanding Rural Health Practitioner – Dr. Mark Larson, Dr. Edward Macke, and Dr. Robert St. Clair

In the past this award has been given to one or two deserving winners, but this year the Awards Committee is thrilled to honor three outstanding rural health practitioners.

Dr. Mark Larson, MD

Dr. Larson was nominated by Cathy Bambrick and Dr. John McCarthy.

Dr. Larson is, first and foremost, a dedicated and loving husband and father. His commitment to his family is admirable and always present in his daily interactions and work practices. Dr. Larson is personally motivated by what is best for his patients and the overall health and well-being of the community. True to his altruistic nature, Dr. Larson successfully acquired a startup grant and opened a Free Clinic for low income citizens in Kittitas County in partnership with local physicians. The Ellensburg Free Clinic opened for services in 1999, providing basic medical care through the operation of a volunteer medical provider service delivery model. Since that time, the Free Clinic operates a second site located in Upper Kittitas County.”

Dr. Larson is the quintessential Rural Physician with a breadth of knowledge, experience, and commitment. He maintains and exudes profound integrity, continued curiosity and a sense of caring for others above self. He is passionate, caring, balanced, creative, supportive, committed and infused with the inherent qualities of a stellar rural physician.

Dr. Edward Macke, MD

Dr. Macke was nominated by Renee Jensen.

Dr. Macke has a long and admirable career in rural health starting back in 1977 when he first came to the town of McCleary, a town with a population of just over 1600, through his work with the National Health Service Corps. Although his original commitment was for just two years, Dr. Macke made McCleary his home and began his family practice there.

In her own words Renee related in her nomination of Dr. Macke that, “He is competent and compassionate in his care of patients, and many people from the community have stepped forward to offer their words describing Dr. Macke’s thoughtful care for them and their family members.”

Renee continues by writing that, “Dr. Macke has operated a busy practice, but he knew each patient. He not only knew the patient, but also their parents, siblings and friends. He truly epitomized the Patient Centered Medical Home in his practice.”

Dr. Macke’s work with the local community is also notable. “The hospital suffered severe financial distress periodically and Dr. Macke was always its strongest supporter,” Renee said. “Some days he covered the Emergency Room in addition to his clinic, and he was a staunch advocate in the vote to form the hospital district there.”

Dr. Macke’s life and work embodies the qualities that Dr. John Anderson exhibited and is very deserving of recognition with this award.

Dr. Robert St. Clair, MD

Dr. St. Clair was nominated by Becky Bailey on behalf of the Lincoln Hospital District #3 Board of Commissioners.

Dr. St. Clair has provided healthcare to patients in rural communities in Lincoln County for over 27 years, working as a family practitioner at clinics in Davenport and Wilbur, WA and also admits and follows patients at the Lincoln Hospital.

Becky said of Dr. St. Clair that, “His work goes further beyond his regular tasks as a family practitioner as he works a call rotation for the emergency department in our facility. Dr. St Clair’s commitment to supporting Lincoln County and healthcare is very evident.”

Becky continues by writing that, “As a practitioner and community member, he remains visible by supporting community events and is well respected among the public. He has actively participated in National and State level lobbying for healthcare. This fall, Dr. St. Clair traveled to Baltimore to testify on behalf of Critical Access Hospitals before an advisory board from CMS to address the Direct Supervision and 96 hour rules being adopted by CMS. He encouraged CMS to not adopt these rules because they will have a negative impact on rural CAHs.”

Dr. St. Clair’s dedication to rural healthcare and the community make him the ideal recipient for this award.

Leah Layne Memorial Health Leadership Award – Kris Sparks

Kristina Sparks was nominated by Mary Selecky and selected by the awards committee.

Mary wrote of Kris that, “her dedication to rural health was known to all who worked with her, those who received her advocacy, and employees with whom she tutored and prepared for their jobs. Her leadership with programs that were implemented after the 1989 legislation that established the Office or Rural Health prepared her to become the Director of the Office.”

Mary goes on to write, “Kris and I worked together on many projects and I had the opportunity to experience her knowledge, advocacy and influence on rural health. She served as President of the National Rural Health Association and promoted rural health at the national level. Having known both Leah Layne and Kris Sparks, I learned from and saw their work shared within the state and nation. Each had a very different style, but both impacted many. Kris is a worthy candidate for the Leah Layne Memorial Health Leadership Award.”

Outstanding Contributions to Rural Health Award – Robert “Bob” Campbell, MHA

Nominated by Phil Stalp, Robert Campbell is the Chief Executive of Providence Health Care Stevens County. He has been in this role for seven years, but has been a leader in rural health care systems for approximately 42 years.

Phil Stalp said of Bob that, “His belief in the best healthcare available for people who live in rural areas is a personal mission and his actions with staff, community members, elected officials, and organizations always are from his heart, which is filled with the love of providing the best healthcare possible to each person. Providence has a motto: Know me, Care for me, ease my way; Bob lives by that for every person. Bob's commitment to community meant that he gave of his personal time to improve conditions and situations for all. He gives and gives and gives - always with a smile.”

Phil went on to say, “Most recently, he knew the greatest need for the Stevens County communities had to do with food, so he jump started a Hunger Coalition and served on its founding Board of Directors. It is a coalition of food banks, farmer's markets, and people interested in addressing the hunger issue in this rural county. The Coalition is thriving and held its first gala with more than 150 people attending, and Bob was thanked by the whole community and audience for bringing an idea to fruition. His dedication goes beyond the four walls of any health care institution. Bob is a role model for many of us.”

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners! The Washington Rural Health Association’s Award Luncheon will be held on March 18th at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park in Spokane, WA. Awards will be presented by Mary Selecky, committee chair, Rohn Rehn, committee member, and Steve Meltzer, committee member. Other members of the awards committee include, Zach Nostdal, Lisa Holt, and Brenda Parnell.


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Student Constituency Group Launches Liaison Program

Submitted by Julie Middleton
[email protected]

The student constituency group recently launched a new program for students interested in promoting rural health at their institution. This innovative, boots on the ground program provides student members of NRHA the resources and connections to advocate for rural health issues at their respective schools. Student liaisons meet three times a year via web conference town hall meetings and one time in person at the annual NRHA conference. Student liaisons have the opportunity to network with current students, share the strengths and weaknesses of their programs, and voice ideas about the future of rural healthcare. Check out the presentation from the November town hall meeting for a glimpse into the topics covered,

Additionally, liaisons serve as an "on the ground" contact at their schools to communicate with other students about the opportunities NRHA offers.

The position responsibilities includes the following:

  • Encouraging attendance at NRHA conferences (scholarships available!!) 
  • Attending and promoting regular teleconference Town Hall Meetings 
  • Connecting with fellow liaisons at the annual NRHA conference 
  • Blogging about rural health or connecting other students in their class to blogging

There are also opportunities to run for the national NRHA student constituency board.

The student constituency group hopes the liaison program will encourage a dialogue among students of any discipline all over the country interested in rural health.

Important Information: If you are interested in the liaison program, please email us at [email protected]
The next student liaison meeting is Thursday, April 16 at the National Rural Health Association’s Annual Conference in Philadelphia.

Join our Facebook page to begin connecting with students:
For more information about the student constituency group go to:

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Demographics, Distribution, and Education History of Washington’s Physicians Studied in New Report

Submitted by Sue Skillman
[email protected]

While Washington State’s per capita physician supply is roughly comparable to the national supply, how doctors are distributed varies greatly throughout the state, according to a new study from the WWAMI Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and Center for Health Workforce Studies at the University of 
Washington. Washington State’s Physician Workforce in 2014 found differences in physician distribution between urban and rural areas, with 57 “generalist” physicians (specialties most likely to provide primary care) statewide per 100,000 population in the rural areas of the state compared with 82 per 100,000 in the state’s urban areas. The study used data from the American Medical Association’s Physician Masterfile. 

Additional findings that will be presented in March at the Northwest Regional Rural Health Conference in Spokane include a comparison of rural/urban physician supply distribution in eastern and western Washington. While findings indicate that the average age for all Washington’s practicing physicians is 52, the average age of psychiatrists is 55. The average age is also higher in some rural areas. In 16 out of 39 counties more than half the physicians providing direct patient care are 55 or older. In Garfield, Ferry, Columbia, Clallam, Pacific and Skamania counties, two-thirds or more are 55 or older. Women make up less than half of Washington’s physician work force. Among generalist physicians, 47% are female, with 62% in general pediatrics. Women make up 39% of all surgical specialties and 57% of obstetrician-gynecologists. Residency and alma mater affect practice location with about 15% of all Washington’s physicians having graduated from the University of Washington School of Medicine, the highest percentage of any medical school. Nearly a third of all Washington physicians completed a residency (required clinical training after medical school) in-state. Almost half (45%) of Washington’s family medicine/general practice physicians and 43% of psychiatrists completed a residency in-state. Fifty percent of recent medical school graduates (since 2000) completed a residency in-state.

Statistics like these confirm that residency is highly associated with the location where a physician eventually chooses to practice and of the population he or she prefers to serve. Residencies may be a way to recruit physicians with the needed specialties to the right places to meet demand as Washington State’s population grows and ages and health care delivery and payment systems are transformed. Washington, however, ranks below the median of overall residencies and fellowships per capita and the number of primary care residencies and fellowships per capita by state. While not an easy task, creating more residencies in locations and specialties that serve the populations where shortages are greatest could be an effective tool to reduce disparities in the distribution of Washington’s physicians. Efforts specifically designed to retain young physicians could help stabilize the workforce, particularly in the many rural communities where more than half the physicians are age 55 or older.

Report authors were Susan Skillman and Bert Stover. Download a full copy of Washington State’s Physician Workforce in 2014 here:

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Kittitas Valley Healthcare Celebrates 50 Years

Submitted by Amy Diaz
[email protected]

The first patients were admitted to KVH Hospital on December 29, 1964. Now, 50 years later, Kittitas Valley Healthcare has celebrated a milestone of caring for the community by releasing one story, 
photo, fun fact, or historic news article every day for 50 days. The community was invited to follow the "50 Years in 50 Days" posts by connecting with KVH on social media (Twitter, Facebook or Linked In) or viewing the KVH website at

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WSU Spokane Health Policy and Administration Master’s Program

Submitted by Gary Smith
[email protected]

The Master of Health Policy and Administration (MHPA) degree is a vigorous, CAHME accredited, and personalized program that prepares future leaders in the dynamic and growing field of healthcare management. WSU HPA students enjoy small class sizes (12-20 students) which facilitate opportunities for strong and lasting relationships with both peers and professors. Students are required to comple
te an internship, individual and group based projects, attend site visits, and be actively engaged in class discussions. A proportionate number of our students seek careers in rural health care management, with the altruistic goal of increasing healthcare accessibility and quality healthcare services in the rural communities of the region. Graduates of the program work in a wide range of career fields, including hospital management, public health, managed care, group practice management, and financial management. Since 2012, 90% of WSU MHPA graduates secured employment within 3 months of graduation! 

The program is ideal for working health care professionals who want to enhance their management skills or advance to management positions. To attract and accommodate our working professional students, our classes are offered from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., four days a week. According to Forbes Magazine in 2014, a Master’s in Healthcare Administration ranks in the top 10 for career outlook. In addition to the MHPA, the Department offers six online courses: Lean Six Principles (includes Lean Principles, Green Belt and Black Belt). As an adaptation of the Toyota Production System, Lean focuses on improving efficiency, eliminating waste, and producing a culture of continuous improvement and problem solving. Our program requires participants to incorporate real-life applications from their own work and experiences into the projects and assignments used to apply the Lean concepts.

Rapid Process Improvement (RPI)

Rapid Process Improvement (RPI) is a simple but powerful method for accelerating improvement. The goal is to create reliable, efficient, and customer driven processes. Due to the short-term nature of RPI, this course will utilize case studies to apply the concepts from the course. Students will receive an RPI Certificate of Completion upon successful completion of the course.

Project Management

The focus of this course is to develop competencies in and understanding of the concepts, tools, and techniques utilized when completing projects within your organization. Students who take this course meet the educational requirements needed to sit for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification exam with the Project Management Institute.

Health Payment Reform

In this course, students will utilize a comprehensive range of health care finance and accounting tools and techniques to advance their computational, analytic, and financial decision-making skills in the context of the most recent health payment reforms. Healthcare Professionals who take this course will earn 20 continuing education credits.

To learn more about the MHPA program and professional certificates, visit:
Or contact Academic Coordinator, Robin Durfee, at [email protected] or 509.358.7987.


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A Trip to the ER Results in a Flight to Spokane 


Submitted by Jerrie Heyamoto
[email protected]

“The week of Valentine’s Day we noticed that Carter just wasn’t himself,” Brooke Pitts said about her six-year old son. After watching him for a while and trying to make the decision about what to do, she decided she needed to get him to a doctor. “I just couldn’t deny it anymore, and we rushed him to the pediatrician in Moses Lake,” said Brooke.

“Among other issues, his blood sugar level was off the charts. We went to the ER, and they said he needs to go to Spokane.” Because of Carter’s condition, his care team felt rapid, critical care transport was needed. “As a mother, I’m not only concerned about how he’s doing, but in the back of my mind, I’m also thinking about how much it’s going to cost,” Brooke says. “But when they said it was going to be by MedStar, it was a huge relief.”

The Carter family had been Northwest MedStar members since the year Carter was born and knew the out-of-pocket costs would be covered. Brooke said she knew Carter was in good hands as she thought back on the entire care team, including the NW MedStar team, who provided critical care transport to Spokane. She said the fixed wing flight only took about 20 minutes. NW MedStar’s ground ambulance met Brooke and Carter at Felts Field and the same critical care team took them to Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.

“My flight crew was awesome,” Carter said about his flight, and from a kid’s perspective continued, “That was my Valentine’s Day present.” Brooke was able to save thousands in the cost of Carter’s critical care transport. “I think everyone should have a MedStar membership for how much it costs, which is less than $5 a month.” “We live in a rural area,” Brooke said. “If anything happens, most likely you’re going to be flown to a major hospital. If you have it you may not need it. But, if you do need it, you’ll be glad you have it. It’s something I’ll never let lapse.”

To enroll in Northwest MedStar’s membership program, visit Health care providers receive a membership discount and 10% off INHS Health Training continuing education.

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Expanded Orthotics & Prosthetics Services at
Spokane Shriners Hospital


Submitted by Damon Pilgrim
[email protected]

Shriners Hospital for Children - Spokane is pleased to announce the addition of our new orthotics and prosthetics lab. We are excited to welcome Peter Springs, certified prosthetist and orthotist to manage this new in-house service, caring for our patients who have limb deficiencies or bracing needs. Peter will operate as a part of a new Shriners Hospitals for Children network of hospital based pediatric orthotic and prosthetic services, also known as POPS.

Through the formation of POPS, these orthotic and prosthetic labs (operating as independent LLCs) utilize the same extensively experienced staff and advanced facilities to provide superior, leading edge O and P care to thousands of Shriners Hospital pediatric patients. We are fortunate to add Peter to our hospital family. As the only clinician in the inland northwest exclusively devoted to pediatric orthotic and prosthetic care, Peter has the experience and dedication to meet the unique needs of our pediatric patients.

Following his residencies, Peter worked at Shriners Hospitals for Children - Salt Lake City for seven years. He has been in Spokane for more than three years, working with the Spokane Shriners Hospital as an outside provider. He is delighted to be working in a Shriners Hospital again, providing comprehensive and state-of-the-art care to patients. The Spokane Shriners Hospital POPS lab provides the latest treatment and materials and utilizes the latest in CAD technology to design and fabricate custom orthotic and prosthetic devices for your growing child. Providing this service in-house creates a more streamlined coordination of care. Peter and his team will be able communicate face to face with your child’s doctor and care team assuring your child receives the best possible outcome.

Shriners Hospitals for Children - Spokane continues to add specialty services focused on providing the region’s expert pediatric orthopaedic care. 

If you have any questions about our orthotics, prosthetics or bracing services, please contact Peter Springs at 509-455-7844.



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Life Flight Network Will Base a 24/7 Medical Helicopter in Astoria beginning May 15, 2015


Submitted by Jacob Dalstra
[email protected]

Life Flight Network (LFN), the largest not-for-profit air medical transport service in the United States, will be opening a base in Astoria, Oregon. The base will begin 24/7 operations on May 15, 2015. The LFN base in Astoria will significantly improve access to air medical resources along the Oregon and Washington Coast. The new helicopter will be serving Pacific and Wahkiakum Counties in Washington. Ocean Beach Hospital in Illwaco and Willapa Harbor Hospital in South Bend will both directly benefit from having an emergency medical helicopter just moments away. Other surrounding communities, such as Long Beach and Raymond in Washington, will also benefit from having this new air medical resource available.

Linda Kaino, Chief Nursing Officer for Ocean Beach Hospital said, “Ocean Beach Hospital is very excited to have Life Flight based on the coast. This will mean our critical patients can be transferred to a higher level of care, faster.”

A Life Flight Network helicopter in Astoria will improve patient outcomes and ultimately save lives. Life Flight Network has served the area for nearly four decades from the Portland-Vancouver Metro area and is excited to have a more local presence. The helicopter stationed in Astoria will be a twin-engine Agusta 109. The instrument rated helicopter can make the trip from the coast to Portland or Vancouver in about 25 minutes.

For a nominal fee, LFN offers membership options. Members incur no out-of-pocket expense if flown for medically necessary emergent conditions. Membership also helps support operations in locations where there is a need for air medical transportation, such as Pacific county. To request more information about the membership program, or if organizations would like an in-person presentation, please contact the LFN membership office at 800-982-9299.


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St. Luke’s Clinical Education Series - Available via TeleHealth


Submitted by Jerrie Heyamoto
[email protected]

Each year, thousands of people choose St. Luke's for therapy services and care. As the region’s Level I Trauma Rehabilitation hospital for adults and pediatrics, our experienced clinicians are committed to returning patients back to their communities with the most independent lifestyle possible. It's that experience that allows St. Luke's to share best practices and knowledge with other care providers throughout the region. Clinical Education classes are provided at St. Luke's Main Campus and most are available over the Northwest TeleHealth network. Many sessions are available at no cost to your staff. If you you’d like to participate over video-conferencing, please contact your local site coordinator to register for this event.

Sites with video conferencing through NW TeleHealth simply register on Resource Scheduler.
Visit for upcoming education events.

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