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.