Organization Newsletter

November 2013


In this issue...

  1. President's Message
  2. State Office of Rural Health: Change Afoot at the State Office of Rural Health
  3. Your Membership Invoice at the Tip of Your Fingers
  4. Upcoming Educational Opportunities
  5. MedStar Alert Hits 1,000
  6. St. Luke's Welcomes Dr. Gregory T. Carter as Medical Director
  7. Long-Time Rural Physician & Public Health Leader Receives Providence Award
  8. A NW MedStar Membership Makes A Perfect Holiday Gift
  9. Eastern Washington Center of Occupational Health & Education (COHE) Expands Service Territory
  10. Walla Walla Man Has Birthday to Remember


The Washington Rural Health Association 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 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.


President's Message

submitted by: John Hanson
[email protected] 

One of the chronic conditions that appear to afflict people living in rural areas of Washington more than the state as a whole is diabetes. Did you know that poor oral health is linked to heart disease, diabetes and other serious health conditions? Yet access to comprehensive oral health care is limited in those same rural areas.

According to the Washington Dental Access Campaign, convened by the Children’s Alliance, “Out-of-date laws are keeping Washingtonians from receiving the oral health care that is vital to their overall health. Modernizing our laws will add a new mid-level oral health care provider to the dental team, freeing dentists to focus on more complicated procedures.”

These mid-level dental providers (MLPs) successfully practice in more than 50 countries. MLPs have safely been extending care to kids and adults in rural Alaska since 2005. In that state dentists have successfully used the innovation of off site supervision of these professionals to extend dental care and health education to adults and kids. Policymakers in Minnesota added mid-level dental providers to the dental workforce in 2009. Due to these changes, dentists in both states successfully utilize MLPs to reduce costs and increase access while maintaining high quality care.

In their November 13th approved Recommendations for Oral Health Strategies, the Washington State Board of Health, with support from the Department of Health, included the following language: “Support policies for the exploration and feasibility of new and emerging evidence-based dental workforce models to increase access to and efficiency of dental treatment.”

The Washington Rural Health Association is pleased to formally support this evolving solution to the problem of access to professional oral care.

Quotes from dentists:
“At least half of the procedures I do could be done by a licensed dental practitioner. Patients will get care sooner, saving them from costly emergency room visits.”
— Ray Dailey, DDS, Swinomish/Upper Skagit Dental Clinic, La Conner

“This provider [MLP] will benefit thousands of people. It will create jobs in our communities and it will certainly help us meet the demand for low-cost dental care.”
—Alex Narváez, DDS, Dental Director, Sea Mar Community Health Centers

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State Office of Rural Health: Change Afoot at the State Office of Rural Health

submitted by: Bonnie Burlingham

[email protected]

As we near the end of 2013, we look back at all of the changes at the State Office of Rural Health, which is housed at the Washington State Department of Health. There has been nearly a complete turnover in staff since last year. While Kris Sparks, Mike Lee, John Hanson, and Natalie Gonzalez are already missed, we appreciate the time and effort they put into building a strong SORH, with long standing partnerships and solid infrastructure for the new staff to build from.

There are new faces and well known faces at the SORH. Here’s a reminder of who we are:

  • Melissa Lovell, Director of the State Office of Rural Health and Section Manager for the Rural Section at DOH
  • Kim Kelley, Critical Access Hospital Program Manager
  • Asnake Hailu, Rural Health Epidemiologist
  • Renee Fullerton, J-1 Visa Waiver Program Manager, Direct Recruitment
  • Jawana Cain, Recruitment Specialist
  • Sam Watson-Alvan, Primary Care Office Manager
  • Bonnie Burlingham, State Office of Rural Health Grant Manager and Rural Health Clinic Consult

Our contact information can be found here:

State Offices of Rural Health are part of a federal program. Every state has a SORH, with the broad based goals of providing support to rural health system development, disseminating information from the federal government to communities and vice versa, and providing an information hub to share best practices of rural work in the state. In short, to try to see the whole picture, and to best use the resources we all have to continue to support a healthy rural Washington.

We are excited about the road ahead, and we want to be in closer contact with those who are working and living in rural communities. SORHs were created as a resource, a planning group, a policy team, and working with you gives us a stronger, more viable, and informed voice.

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Your Membership Invoice at the Tip of Your Fingers

submitted by: WRHA e-Newsletter Editor
[email protected] 


Need a Receipt or Perhaps an Invoice?

You went to renew your membership, you filled out the form, went through the process, selected invoice me, and now you are sitting back waiting to receive your invoice.

Unfortunately, invoices are no longer mailed from the WRHA; however, now as soon as you click “invoice me”, the invoice is sent to the email address used to create your WRHA online account.

In the event you inadvertently deleted this email and need to view and/or pay the invoice follow the following steps:

  1. Login to your WHRA account
  2. Hover your mouse pointer over “My Profile”
  3. Select “View Transactions” (here you can view your payment receipts and unpaid invoices)
  4. Select “Invoice”
  5. You now have the options to “Pay Invoice”, “Download” your invoice, or “Return to Profile”.
    1. Selecting “Pay Invoice” allows you to take care of the invoice via credit card.
    2. Selecting “Download” allows you to save your invoice to your computer. You can now print the invoice for your paper records or email the invoice (i.e. accounting department).
If you have questions or require assistance, please email or call us at:

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Upcoming Educational Opportunities

submitted by: Jerrie Heyamoto
[email protected]



INHS and its service lines offers a variety of continuing education courses for the region's health care providers including: 

Northwest MedStar Provider Chats

Monthly Provider Chats focus on different topics of interest and take place the second Thursday of each month.
Upcoming topic and speaker:
Vascular Emergencies, Dr. Hassan Tehrani, November 14

Learn more about Provider Chats and view topics for 2013-2014 by visiting: 

INHS Health Training Classes

A full schedule of AHA continuing education and EMS training courses are now being offered. Visit and click on the Resources tab to download a printable schedule for 2013-2014. 

Bonus: Northwest MedStar members receive 10% off on AHA continuing education classes through INHS Health Training.

EMS [email protected]

Presented the second Tuesday of each month, 6:45 - 8:15 p.m. (Pacific).
Upcoming topic: Spinal Immobilization, November 12 

Visit and click on the EMS [email protected] tab to learn more and view the 2013-2014 schedule of topics. 

EMS [email protected] Recordings Available

EMS [email protected] recordings are now available online for those who are not able to attend the live broadcast. Register for an "access code" to view the entire training season (September 2013- June 2014) for one low price of $100. This code can be shared within your agency as well. Register online to receive your code today! You can currently view the September and October sessions once you register. Visit and click on course listings. 

New - Online EMT Training

INHS Health Training is now offering online/classroom combination EMT courses that are available to start anytime. You can take the didactic (classroom) portion of the class online, and once complete, attend a skills session with the instructor. There is an instructor available throughout the online portion for questions and support. 

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MedStar Alert Hits 1,000

submitted by: Jerrie Heyamoto
[email protected]

MedStar Alert, a free application for your iPad, iPhone or AnderoidTM smartphone and designed by NW MedStar, now has 1,000 registered users. The app instantly alerts Northwest MedStar and reduces flight response time should air transport be needed.

If you aren’t a current user, here’s how it works for hospital partners:

  • Download the free app by visiting your app store and register.
  • Registered hospital users can place NW MedStar on standby or launch through the app.
  • Open the app and press “helo”. The window will pre-populate with your location. 
  • Use either text (preferred SMS) or mail (email), type in the patient age, weight and destination hospital. Include a call back phone number if different than your smartphone.
  • NW MedStar Communication Center will send availability and ETA.
  • Indicate how you would like NW MedStar to respond:
    • STANDBY: Type “standby” to place NW MedStar on standby.
    • LAUNCH: Type “launch” to launch NW MedStar. We will call to confirm on your smartphone or the call back the number you provided to confirm. 

To learn more visit

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St. Luke's Welcomes Dr. Gregory Carter as Medical Director

submitted by: Jerrie Heyamoto
[email protected]

St. Luke’s is pleased to announce that after a national search, Gregory T. Carter, MD, MS, joined St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute as medical director. Dr. Carter recently worked for rehabilitation hospitals in western Washington, bringing extensive experience to the Inland Northwest.

“Dr. Carter is working with our interdisciplinary teams to further position St. Luke’s as the premier rehabilitation facility in the region,” said St. Luke’s Hospital Administrator Ulrike Berzau. “Dr. Carter’s vision and passion for the highest standards of care supports St. Luke's mission and goals.”

Dr. Carter co-founded the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) / ALS Center at the University of Washington and the MDA Regional Neuromuscular Disease Center at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Washington, where he later received the Excellence in Clinical Care Award from the MDA. In 2012, Dr. Carter received the Distinguished Researcher Award from the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine. He is also the past recipient of the Best Research Paper Published by a Physiatrist Award from the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation as well as the Excellence in Research Writing Award from the Association of Academic Physiatrists.

“It is an honor to be part of St. Luke’s,” said Carter. “St. Luke’s offers innovative and vital services to the area not found elsewhere; the staff and community partners illustrate just why patients and health care providers continue to choose St. Luke’s for their rehabilitation needs.”

Dr. Carter is Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and graduated from Loyola University Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine. He completed his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Neuromuscular Disease (NMD) research at the University of California, Davis, where he also earned a Master’s degree in Physiology.

About St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute

St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute is the region’s largest free-standing physical medicine and rehabilitation hospital and the only Level I trauma rehabilitation hospital in the Inland Northwest. St. Luke’s, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and The Joint Commission, serves more than 7,000 patients each year in inpatient and outpatient settings - people who have suffered a stroke, lost a limb, and suffered a brain injury, spinal cord injury or one of many other illnesses or injuries. St. Luke’s is a division of Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS). 

For more information on St. Luke’s:


Long-Time Rural Physician & Public Health Leader Receives Providence Award

submitted by: Linda Webb
[email protected] 

Spokane, Wash.
On October 8, Providence Health Care held its 21st annual Sister Peter Claver Award ceremony. The 2013 award recipient is Edmund Gray, MD, a retired rural physician and public health leader.

Sister Peter Claver led Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center for 24 years and was beloved throughout the Spokane community for her visionary leadership and unparalleled commitment to the poor. Outside Sacred Heart, she helped set up the House of Charity Medical Outreach Clinic and initiated the planning for a network of charitable medical clinics.

Dr. Gray became a rural family practice physician in 1953, choosing a profession that he knew would require long hours of service. Working at Providence Mount Carmel Hospital in Colville, he could help heal the sick, deliver babies and perform surgery, but he knew that prevention was the key to improving the health of his community. For the next five decades, Dr. Gray served in regional and state-wide leadership roles to improve sanitation, vaccination and epidemiology studies that affected the life of every resident in Northeast Washington’s tri-county region. He also continually fought for the uninsured and helped to develop Washington state’s first Basic Health Plan to increase access to medical care. Further, Dr. Gray’s work with the University of Washington’s medical residency program established a rural medicine track that would train new physicians in the intricacies of working outside the urban medical setting. He modeled what a rural doctor did and the impact one could leave on a community.

“It is no surprise that Dr. Gray has received accolades from health care leaders across our state,” said Elaine Couture, chief executive of Providence Health Care. We wish to bestow one more - the Sister Peter Claver Humanitarian Award - for making a monumental difference in health care in our region.

Other nominees for the award included:

  • Kelly Aldrich, a community volunteer who offers her service through World Relief, Free Cakes for Kids, Sheridan Elementary School and LifeCenter Church. 
  • Rusty Barnett, director of Hope House, a shelter for women that has permanent housing apartments, a respite program and on-site medical case management.
  • Becky Doughty, RN, founder and director of Inland Northwest Transitional Care Program which serves homeless people who need care after a hospital stay to ensure complete healing.
  • Dr. Hal and Sandy Goldberg, members of Healing Hearts Northwest, a service that provides heart disease education and treatment every year in Rwanda. 
  • Kristine Ruggles, director of Christ Clinic and Christ Kitchen, serving low-income families who need access to medical care helping women in poverty to gain employment skills.
  • Michelle Sakurai, a chaplain for Providence's Stevens County hospitals, who took the initiative to create the Hunger Coalition to serve the tri-county area's most poor and vulnerable.

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A NW MedStar Membership Makes A Perfect Holiday Gift

submitted by: Jerrie Heyamoto
[email protected]


photo: Nate Gilbert and his dad Greg Gilbert

“I thought I was too young,” said Nate when his dad, NW MedStar volunteer Greg Gilbert, told him he was included in NW MedStar’s member program. At the time Nate laughed. But a few months later Nate had an industrial accident and required a medical air transport after getting soaked with aqua ammonia, a toxic ingredient in some fertilizers. “I wouldn’t be in as good of condition if it weren’t for them,” said Nate, three years later. “I think everybody should have the membership,” he added. His Dad, who ended up being flown by NW MedStar just over a year after Nate’s flight, agrees so much he volunteers for NW MedStar and tells everyone about membership which saved his family out-of-pocket costs on both flights.

The cost for a family membership is only $59 per year or $150 for three years (savings of $27). Sign-up today for a gift or personal family membership online at or call (855) 856-4698.

With bases in Spokane, Tri-Cities, Moses Lake and the Palouse area, NW MedStar safely transports thousands of patients each year in Washington, Idaho and Oregon. For more information, visit


Eastern Washington Center of Occupational Health & Education (COHE) Expands Service Territory

submitted by: Jerrie Heyamoto
[email protected]

The Eastern Washington Center of Occupational Health & Education (Eastern WA COHE), a program of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute and Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS), has a renewed contract with Washington State Labor & Industries (L&I) to continue its successful work in getting injured workers back to work.

“We are extremely pleased that INHS and St. Luke’s are sponsoring a COHE that will serve injured workers in 19 Eastern Washington counties,” said Gary Franklin, MD, Medical Director at L&I. “Their leadership shares our vision of integrated health care aimed at preventing work-related disability. This type of public/private collaboration is an emerging paradigm for health care, a strategy that can improve treatment of many chronic conditions in a community.”

The contract, which goes thru June, 2016 with a two-cycle renew option, expands Eastern WA COHE’s service territory into Benton, Franklin and Kittitas counties bringing the total counties served to 19.

“In collaboration with L&I, employers, labor unions and health care providers, our Eastern Washington COHE will continue to achieve great results in improving outcomes for injured workers and get people back to work faster and more efficiently,” said Tom Fritz, CEO of INHS. “We look forward to expanding services and covering the entire eastern and central Washington region.”

Eastern WA COHE currently provides services from offices in Spokane, Yakima and Wenatchee. To accommodate the new expansion, Eastern WA COHE has hired two additional Health Services Coordinators to be a local presence in the TriCities area. Additional hospital emergency departments and health care providers that treat injured workers in the expansion areas will be added to the COHE program.

“COHE has good relationships with providers, employers and labor unions throughout the region,” said Nancy Webster, director of rehabilitation services for St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute. “This expanded presence magnifies the commitment of using best practices in treating injured workers and getting them back on the job.”

Eastern WA COHE currently has more than 1,200 participating COHE health care providers, 35 hospital emergency departments, 800 employers and several labor unions.

For more information about the Eastern WA COHE, visit

Eastern Washington Center of Occupational Health & Education is dedicated to providing training and organizational support to medical providers to increase use of best practices in treating injured workers in 19 counties. A 2011 study found that injured workers treated by COHE-affiliated health care providers are away from work for 20 percent fewer days than other injured workers. COHE care also reduces disability and medical costs by $510 per claim during the first year. Eastern Washington COHE is a program of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute, a division of Inland Northwest Health Services. For more information, visit

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Walla Walla Man Has Birthday to Remember

submitted by: Lindsay Steele

On the morning of his birthday, Roy woke up feeling dizzy. He recalls having a restless night and feeling uncomfortable. The dizziness passed after about 10 minutes and Roy decided to start his work day. At the time, he didn’t know he’d be fighting for his life a few hours later.

Roy was loading fertilizer into his truck when his arm suddenly went numb a short while later. Overseeing daily operations of Buttice Construction, he thought he may have overexerted himself. After resting for a while, sensation eventually came back. Numbness returned an hour later. After the third occurrence, Roy thought something might be wrong and made a call to his wife.

Roy’s wife picked him up and they drove to the emergency department at St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla. His CT scan, MRI, and ultrasound showed an almost completely blocked carotid artery on the right side. As symptoms progressed throughout the day, the doctors became increasingly concerned the blockage could dislodge, resulting in death or serious neurological deficits. He needed specialized care, as soon as possible.
Life Flight Network (LFN) was activated to transport Roy to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. The flexible configuration of LFN’s new AgustaWestland 119Kx “Koala” helicopter made it possible for Roy’s wife to stay with him on the fast flight to Spokane. The LFN critical care team constantly assessed Roy’s vital signs and overall condition, closely monitoring for worsening symptoms.

Roy remained stable during transport. Upon arrival at Sacred Heart, the neurological team was waiting. Roy went to the operating room soon after arrival for a carotid endarterectomy and stent placement. Roy tolerated the complex procedure well and was discharged home on blood thinners.

Roy suffered minor voice problems related to flexed vocal cords, but has been able to return to work. He has no measureable difference in strength between his left hand and right hand and should be off the blood thinners soon. He has been able to make a near complete recovery.

When asked how he felt about having this event occur on his birthday, Roy’s response was candid. It is usually just another day to him, but this time he had a very special kind of celebration with an unexpected helicopter ride. Roy is grateful to all of the individuals involved in his care in Walla Walla and Spokane. 

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