Meet Matt Layton, October's Featured Board Member

We are excited to continue our monthly series highlighting our Board of Directors!  This month we are delighted to feature our current Board Chair Matt Layton.  Take a look at his interview below!
And in case you missed it, you can check out our first Board Member interview with Sue Lani Madsen here


EHF is a new chance, a new opportunity. We got attention at the state and national level once they saw our outcomes, and others see how we can help accomplish their visions.
— Matt Layton

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a psychiatrist MD with a PhD in pharmacology; I like to say “I got my MD to put people on medications and my PhD to take them off!”  I am passionate about mental health, and I play different roles in the community in this capacity, including research and teaching roles.  I am a full-time Washington State University employee, as well as the medical director for the opioid treatment program at Spokane Regional Health District, where we currently serve over 650 patients.  My research interests are in the areas of smoking cessation and alcohol and methamphetamine addictions. 

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I’m from Kansas.  I met my wife, who is from Boston, at Kansas University in Lawrence.  We spent six years in Seattle before we had kids, and now we have three – ages 14, 11 and 8.  We joke that Spokane is where the Midwest meets the Northwest.   I did my undergraduate medical degree at Kansas University, and my residency at the University of Washington in Seattle.

One of the most powerful things that has cemented me in the Spokane medical community happened when our now 11-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia seven years ago.  Judy Felgenhauer, who was my fellow when I was an intern at Children’s in Seattle 15 years prior, was part of our daughter’s medical team here in Spokane when she was diagnosed.  I knew that my family was in great hands with her and with the team, and my daughter got wonderful medical care for three years.  She is in now in remission for four years.

What is your favorite book?

Catcher in the Rye byJD Salinger.  While I was never kicked out of private school, I did get kicked out of advanced science in middle school, and one of the best things that ever happened to me is that I was put into wood shop instead.  I have spent 16 years working on our 1915 farmhouse – another passion of mine.

The thing I like about the book is that Holden has a rebel aspect, but also cares about others.  That is what I want to do.

How long have you been a member of the EHF Board?

I’ve been on the EHF board for five years.   I was brought on because of my mental health expertise with a focus on the strategic opportunity to integrate medical with mental health services, which has continued to grow.  I first got involved in the Finance Committee, and have served as Treasurer, Vice Chair and now Chair. 

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

When I first came to Spokane, I was having meetings with Empire Health Services providers regarding mental health issues, which I had already been working on for 11 years.  I was watching very closely as EHF, a significant new financial resource, was formed.  When I was approached, I had a sense of relief that what I was seeing as important to the health of the region also resonated with the founding board members.  

What most excites you about our work and mission?

That what we are doing now aligns with founding board members’ recognition that mental health and addiction are significant health determinants.

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

I was surprised at how rapidly we grew!  We have partnered with various funders and local agencies to leverage our endowment and get return beyond our wildest dreams, achieving 10-year goals in less than 2 years.  We found that people needed this foundation to step in and set aside turf for greater health of our region.  EHF is a new chance, a new opportunity.  We got attention at the state and national level once they saw our outcomes, and others see how we can help accomplish their visions. 

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

The same thing I do with my children.  We go downtown, and take a long walk in Riverfront Park.  The kids love to ride the carrousel.  Then we grab a bite to eat somewhere, and head to Boo Radley’s. 

EHF Board Chair Matt Layton on Eastern Washington's psychiatrist shortage

Care In Crisis, by Lael Henterly.  Article originally posted June 17, 2015 on

Care In Crisis, by Lael Henterly.  Article originally posted June 17, 2015 on

EHF Board Chair Matt Layton was featured on the Inlander website this past Wednesday in Lael Henterley's article "Care in Crisis" describing the psychiatrist shortage in Eastern Washington.  According to Dr. Layton, "We have patients, they have money, they have insurance.  They still can't get care. Our private practitioners are booked three months out."

Part of our work with the Spokane Teaching Health Consortium, a partnership with Washington State University Spokane and Providence Health Care aimed at growing medical residencies by 60% in our region, is expanding psychiatry residencies.