Spokane Prescription Drug Assistance helps reduce hospital and ER visits

The Spokane Prescription Drug Assistance Network (SPDA) has been credited in a recent study for contributing to a drop in hospital admissions and emergency room visits. The network, organized in part by founding EHF board member Sam Selinger, helps patients access reduced cost and free medicines by connecting them to prescription assistance programs offered by pharmaceutical companies. SPDA began in 2008 as the pilot program for the statewide Prescription Drug Assistance Foundation, approved by Washington State Legislature in 2005. The Foundation has since expanded to include similar programs in Seattle, Everett, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Shelton, Yakima, Toppenish, Grandview, and Colfax.

The study tracked 310 patients for one year before enrolling in a prescription assistance program, and one year after. Results were published on April 1st in the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy. Patients receiving pulmonary and asthma medications showed the greatest drop in use of emergency services. However, the study also noted that young patients between 18-24 years old and patients on medications for mental conditions saw increased emergency room visits. Selinger commented that this finding creates an important space for future study.  

There has been very little research available on the affect of prescription assistance programs because most of the research has been kept proprietary by big pharmaceutical companies. This study was a collaborative effort between SPDA, Washington State University Spokane, and local doctors and hospitals. Selinger commented to the Spokesman-Review that such collaboration is pretty unusual, but we here in the EHF region know that collaboration is exactly what we need to radically transform health, and are happy to see the SPDA is making significant headway towards transforming Eastern Washington into the state’s healthiest region.

Paper Tigers Screening at Gonzaga on Sunday, April 17

For those of you looking to learn more about trauma-informed approaches to working with adverse childhood experiences or ACEs, Gonzaga University will be showing a screening of the documentary Paper Tigers on Sunday, April 17.  The incredible work being done at Lincoln Alternative High School in Walla Walla was part of EHF's inspiration to explore supporting trauma-training and restorative justice initiatives at Rogers High School here in Spokane, where we collaborated to reduce the out of school suspension rate by 35% in one year.  Come check out the movie to learn more!

A Special Thank You to Sam Selinger, April's Featured Board Member

We are excited to continue our monthly series highlighting our Board of Directors!  This month we are delighted to feature Sam Selinger, one of EHF's founding board members who finished up his last term in March.  In light of this, we wanted to take a second to thank Sam for all his contributions to EHF and to the community.  Take a look at his feature interview below!

And in case you missed it, you can check out more Board Member interviews with Sue Lani MadsenMatt LaytonTodd KoyamaMary SeleckyGary Stokes, Jeff Bell and Latisha Hill on our blog.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Sam Selinger.  I am a retired cardiovascular surgeon.

After retiring a number of years ago, I founded Project Access in Spokane after learning about this effort while at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.  Project Access works with physicians to provide free healthcare to the uninsured.  After the project was up and operating, we learned that people with chronic diseases had trouble getting their prescriptions filled, so we looked at models throughout the country and ended up working with EHF Vice President Kristen West Fisher in her previous role at Choice on the westside and former Senate Majority Leader (and current EHF Board Member) Lisa Brown to start the Prescription Drug Assistance Foundation to help people who are underinsured or uninsured obtain their medications.   A peer review national paper focused on the health outcome benefits of this approach will be released in April.

Tell us about yourself and your background.

I come from New Jersey and did my medical training on the East Coast.  I attended Johns Hopkins Medical School and trained at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and the Cleveland Clinic.  I came to Spokane in 1978. 

My wife is English and I have two grown children and two grandchildren.  My practice in Spokane as a cardiovascular surgeon was very intense, so I did not have the opportunity to do a lot of nonprofit work while I was in practice.  I have to credit my wife Rosemary who has been involved in a number of nonprofits since we arrived in Spokane.  I have received a lot of my board education from her. 

When I retired as a cardiovascular surgeon, I sought opportunities to apply my healthcare experience to benefit the community.  I learned I have an interest in identifying gaps in care. Spokane has been a terrific community where people listen and are willing to help where able.

What is your favorite book?

I do not have a favorite book per se.  I tend to read fun books that I can put down and pick up again.  I enjoy mysteries.  My wife is English so she reads a lot of English authors and mysteries. 

How long have you been a member of the Empire Health Foundation Board?

I am a founding board member and my time on the Empire Health Foundation Board will come to an end in March.  I am one of the few founding board members remaining. 

What attracted you to the Empire Health Foundation Board of Directors?

When the opportunity came to join the Empire Health Foundation board, I thought it was a unique opportunity for our region since we had typically not had access to significant sources of funding.  I was particularly excited to join a Board with sustaining resources and the opportunity to chart the course for our community.  None of the founding board members had done something like this before, so it was all new.  Each of the founding board members brought something to the table representing the community.   To this day, I have found the same dedication and passion in all of our board members, even if we disagree.

What most excites you about our work and mission?

I have been most excited about Empire Health Foundation’s role as a facilitator with resources.  The idea that the Foundation can serve as an incubator, take risks, fill the gap and bring people together is very exciting.

Has anything surprised you about Empire Health Foundation?  If so, what?

The people.  Everyone on the board has the same level of excitement as the founding board.  People (board and staff) are passionate and excited.  There is healthy debate about direction.  

Finally, when you have an out-of-town guest visit, what is your “must do” in your community?

I also serve on the Spokane Parks Board so the park system is a “must do.”   I enjoy heading down to Riverfront Park, taking my grandkids to the carrousel, viewing the wonders of the river and the park.  I also golf in the summertime on City courses that are very inexpensive.  The ability in Spokane to go from working intensely to something as marvelous as Riverfront Park or another part of nature is really special when you think about other communities where people sit in traffic for hours daily.

2016 EHF Responsive Grant Cycle Is Now Closed

In support of our vision to transform Eastern Washington into the state’s healthiest region, we hold an annual open request for proposals, which we call our Responsive Grant Program.  This program is designed to address one-time, emergent needs in our seven counties, and any nonprofit serving our region can apply for up to $15,000.  

This year's Responsive Grant Cycle is now closed.

Our region includes the counties of Adams, Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Orville, Spokane, Stevens and Whitman, as well as the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Kalispel and Spokane Tribal Reservations. 

The total budget for the 2016 cycle is $200,000. 

For more infomation contact Christina Kamkosi at 509-919-3042 or christina@empirehealthfoundation.org.

Health Affairs on Accountable Communities of Health

The conversation around social determinants of health continues to buzz with a recent article from Health Affairs about what the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Accountable Health Communities funding announcement means for our idea of community health.  We at EHF have been talking about social determinants of health - factors like transportation, access to healthy food and adequate housing, and adverse childhood experiences - for some time (see the Health Iceberg illustration below), but the national attention is a new and positive development.  We are especially excited about the  focus on developing a workforce of health and social service navigators, or Community Health Workers, as well as the suggestion of future payment reform.  

Check out the full article on the Health Affairs Blog!