Premera Grant Fund Awards $579,407 to Eight Rural and Tribal Health Facilities Statewide

By Empire Health Foundation
Feb 20, 2020

SPOKANE, Wash. – Premera Blue Cross and Empire Health Foundation today jointly announced the awarding of $579,407 through the Washington State Rural Facilities Capital Grants Partnership Fund to eight rural and tribal health facilities statewide. The grants will increase access to care and advance health equity in rural and tribal communities.
The Partnership Fund was created out of a $5 million grant awarded in July 2019 by Premera Blue Cross to Empire Health Foundation, who serves as program administrator for the fund. The purpose of the fund is to support the advancement of quality healthcare in under-resourced communities by making grants to hospitals, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare providers for equipment and small capital projects in rural areas of Washington State.
Over $2.3 million was requested in funding during the Fall 2019 funding cycle from 29 organizations across the state. Of the eight organizations awarded, two reside in Eastern Washington:
Ferry County Hospital District was awarded $100,000 to purchase state-of-the-art cardiac monitoring equipment for their critical access hospital. This new equipment will enhance patient care and outcomes, aid in reducing the possibility of infectious disease transmissions, and provide continuous monitoring of critical care patients within the facility. It will also allow for partnerships with tertiary hospitals.
The Kalispel Tribe of Indians was awarded $51,955 to purchase needed equipment for the dental and medical clinics located within the Tribe’s Camas Center for Community Wellness, as well as remodeling clinical space to accommodate the addition of naturopathic care services. Naturopathic care is inherent to traditional tribal cultural practices and has been unavailable in Pend Oreille County until now.
According to a 2017 study from the National Rural Health Association, people living in rural areas suffer worse health outcomes than their urban counterparts. They are sicker, poorer and older and are more likely to experience higher rates of premature death, disability and chronic disease. Across Washington, more than one million people, or 14 percent of the state’s population, live in rural communities.
“We are grateful for Premera’s commitment to improving access to care in rural areas,” said Jeffrey Bell, Interim President of Empire Health Foundation.“Our rural and tribal residents face daunting healthcare challenges in their communities as well as capital constraints in identifying funding for equipment and capital projects. The Premera Fund will play a meaningful role in improving health and quality of life, and closing disparities in rural and tribal areas. Empire Health Foundation is proud to partner with Premera in facilitating this funding.”
Investments in the infrastructure of rural and tribal clinics will contribute to increased access to services for patients by adding new technology or equipment that may have been previously unavailable. Improvements to health facilities and equipment also have a proven positive impact on physician retention and recruitment. 
“Premera is proud to support Empire Health Foundation in their efforts to improve health care access to these remote and medically underserved communities,” said Paul Hollie, Premera Social Impact lead. “With the growing disparity between urban and rural health care access, it is critical to invest in providing this much-needed equipment and building infrastructure that supports more integrated health services. We want to close this gap.”
The Partnership Fund is a four-year funding opportunity for rural and tribal health facilities. The next RFP through this Fund will open on March 2 at 8 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (PST).
Find a full list of grantees and more information on applying for a grant through this Fund at
Learn more about how Premera is investing in rural communities at
Premera Blue Cross, a not-for-profit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association based in Mountlake Terrace, Wash., is a leading health plan in the Pacific Northwest, providing comprehensive health benefits and tailored services to approximately 2 million people, from individuals to Fortune 100 companies.
Empire Health Foundation is a private health conversion foundation based in Spokane, Wash., with philanthropic assets totaling approximately $79 million. Through partnerships with key community leaders, government agencies and nonprofit organizations, EHF seeks to move the dial equitably, measurably and sustainably on health by investing in improvements in health outcomes, strengthening health systems, growing physician supply, building nonprofit capacity and advancing health equity.