Celebrating Spokane Gives

By Christina Kamkosi, EHF Program Coordinator

Spokane Mayor Condon asked, “What makes a city compassionate?” He found that Louisville, Kentucky had been recognized as one of America’s “most compassionate cities” by virtue of their commitment to volunteering in the community. Spokane Mayor David Condon knew that our citizens in Spokane were every bit as caring, so a delegation from Spokane went to Louisville to learn from their successes. 

“That visit really showed us how much we have in common as caring, compassionate communities. Louisville was a little ahead of us in terms of defining its story, but the trip got us thinking about how Spokane rallies to help during large festivals, in times of need, and everywhere in between. Spokane Gives became our way to shine a light on the need for year-round giving, recognize all of the good work already being done in the community, and connect people to their passions,” said Mayor Condon.

Empire Health Foundation (EHF) invests in ideas and organizations that result in a measurably healthier region. Beyond health care, this includes a focus on the social and physical environments that promote good health for all. One attribute of healthy communities is volunteerism. Not only does it address some of the community's most pressing needs, but research also shows that it provides health benefits for the volunteers themselves. 

Inspired by the Mayor's challenge, EHF joined with other partners including the City of Spokane, Spokane County United Way, Whitworth University, Spokane Teachers Credit Union and Windermere Real Estate to launch Spokane Gives. This initiative finds ways to expand the level and impact of volunteering in our community.

Spokane Gives’ first project promoted volunteering by shining a light on work already being done in Spokane. This project then grew to align with National Community Service month of April where a growing number of businesses sponsor mini grants for nonprofit organizations to buy community event supplies.

Spokane Gives has also created an online portal, www.volunteerspokane.org. This portal is managed by United Way and has volunteer opportunities all year-round. When you sign up, you get matched with needs that are of interest to you or get notifications when needs arise. The website also creates a volunteer resume for registrants and tracks the dollar value of volunteer hours which gives you an idea of your individual impact.

Four years after the "compassion challenge", we are delighted to report that the number of volunteers in our community has more than doubled. In addition, we've seen substantial growth in the number of volunteer hours and completed projects.

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Since the beginning of Spokane Gives, our community has generated more than six and a half million dollars in volunteer impact. Other incredible outcomes include the adoption of the Charter of Compassion by the Spokane City Council. The Charter for Compassion, crafted by world leaders under the sponsorship of the TED Prize winner, Dr. Karen Armstrong, seeks to foster compassion, civility and positive civic engagement to communities all over the world. The Mayor has also received a national award from Voices for National Service in recognition of Spokane Gives.

We want to thank all the partners and volunteers who have made Spokane Gives a success and invite everyone to join us in the next phase of this journey. “Everyone can make a difference,” said Antony Chiang, president of the Empire Health Foundation. “Big things start with the smallest acts of compassion, generosity and kindness.” Year-round opportunities to plant your seeds of compassion are available at www.volunteerspokane.org. Click here for a video of why others participate in Spokane Gives, and join us in April as we take this initiative to a new level. Stay healthy, be bold and volunteer more! 

Andy Hill Cancer Research Endowment (CARE) Welcomes Inaugural Executive Director

The Andy Hill Cancer Research Endowment (CARE) is excited to welcome Laura Flores Cantrell, J.D. as its inaugural Executive Director! Laura will officially join the Andy Hill CARE staff as Executive Director in April. She will be an incredible asset to the work, and will help lead the Board and community partners through the next phase in strategic development, resulting in breakthrough investments for cancer research in Washington State.

Read the full announcement on the CARE website here

Empire Health Foundation (EHF) serves as Program Administrator for the Andy Hill Cancer Research Endowment (CARE). EHF is responsible for working with expert scientific review panels to provide independent evaluation of grant applications, and will partner with the CARE Board to administer grants to fund cancer research that utilizes the best science with the greatest potential to improve health outcomes for Washingtonians.  

Andy Hill Cancer Research Endowment (CARE) Distinguished Researchers Program - Request for Applications

The Andy Hill Cancer Research Endowment is pleased to announce that it will begin accepting applications for the second cohort of the Distinguished Researchers Program. The Distinguished Researchers Program will match, dollar for dollar, Washington research institutions’, organizations’, and commercial entities’ recruitment commitments up to $500,000 per recruitment, to add value to recruitment packages that bring leading cancer researchers to Washington. Andy Hill CARE grant funds may be used for any purpose (e.g., salaries, equipment, etc.) that advances the scholar’s research.

Please visit the Andy Hill CARE Fund website and the Distinguished Researchers page for a full program description and access to the application portal. The application period for the second cohort is February 15, 2018 to April 10, 2018.

Please contact Peter Choi (peter@empirehealthfoundation.org) with any questions regarding the program or application process.

Rising Strong Among Premera's 2017 Social Impact Grant Recipients

Social Impact Report written and published by Premera

The prevalence of behavioral health conditions is greater than the five most common chronic health conditions combined — heart failure, coronary artery disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and diabetes. By treating behavioral health issues, overall health will improve.

Recognizing the importance between behavioral health and overall health, in 2017, Premera Blue Cross launched a $3 million Social Impact Program aimed at supporting behavioral health issues, particularly in underserved communities. 

Last year, Premera granted $175,000 to Rising Strong, a partnership between Catholic Charities and Empire Health Foundation. Rising Strong is a family centered drug treatment program with housing for the entire family. It serves families with children at risk of entry to foster care due to abuse or neglect by parents with substance abuse disorder. 

“It is clear that behavioral health is inseparable from physical health. If you are severely depressed, you will not be able to effectively manage your diabetes, control physical pain, and you may self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs which can lead to addiction,” said Dr. Shawn West, Medical Director for Provider and Customer Engagement at Premera.

Premera launched a multimedia-driven Social Impact Report, which can be read here. The piece highlights the importance of why the company is stepping up to address behavioral health and how Premera is partnering with nonprofits in Alaska and Washington to creatively find solutions.

Practicing on the Palouse

Originally written and published by the Inlander, February 6, 2018

Pullman Regional Hospital is aiming to train medical residents in rural family medicine via the Spokane Teaching Health Center, which is a partnership among Washington State University, Providence and the Empire Health Foundation.

Under the partnership, residents will spend their first year in Spokane, and then their second and third years in Pullman, with the first two residents starting full-time training on the Palouse by mid-2020. When all the spots are full, the critical access hospital will have a total of four residents, with two in their second year and two in their third.

"One of the things that becomes critically important for relatively rural communities is maintaining providers," says Dr. Gerald Early, chief medical innovation officer for Pullman Regional. "Being part of a residency program with a rural training track allows young physicians in the process of completing their training to get a taste for what it's like to live in a small community. A number of them will say, 'Hey, this works for me.'"

The Spokane Teaching Health Center has had a similar partnership with Colville since 1986, and almost 85 percent of the doctors who have trained through that program stayed in rural medicine in the immediate area, creating somewhat of a "pipeline" of rural doctors that the Pullman program will aim to replicate.

The Pullman program is part of a larger increase in medical residencies planned in partnership with Holy Family Hospital in Spokane and is currently awaiting accreditation so it can start accepting residents by mid-2019.