HSSA Announces $380,000 “Access to Health Care” 2018 Recipients

The Health Sciences & Services Authority (HSSA) of Spokane County announced it will fund $380,000 for five (5) community recipients of its annual “Access to Care” grant competition in 2018. The organizations that were selected provide innovative health service delivery and increased access to health care to certain populations.

“HSSA’s mission includes increasing access to health care through innovative and collaborative health care delivery in Spokane County, as well as its on-going efforts to improve the capacity of the Spokane region in health sciences research,” said Nancy L. Isserlis, HSSA Board Chair.

“HSSA received 13 grant proposals totaling over $1.2 million, which certainly speaks to community need and innovation presented in these proposals,” she said.

The 2018 recipients of HSSA’s “Access to Care” grant competition are as follows:

  • Empire Health Foundation/Catholic Charities Spokane “Rising Strong” will receive $100,000 from HSSA for its family-centered treatment with housing for families at risk of child removal due to parental alcohol and substance use disorder. Rising Strong will provide housing, recovery coaching, behavioral treatment and evidence-based programs for the entire family.
  • Partners with Family & Children will receive $50,000 in 2018 to continue its mission to address the specialty child abuse needs for a growing number of children who suffer from physical and/or sexual child abuse, as well as conduct training for new medical personnel.
  • Providence Health Care Foundation will receive $100,000 to establish on-site dental care for low income populations with clinics at Sacred Heart and Holy Family hospitals. Nearly 3,600 dental patients presented to Providence in 2015 for treatment. HSSA’s funding will be used for dental equipment purchased to outfit operatories at Sacred Heart.
  • Spokane Prescription Assistance Network will receive $30,000 to make available prescription drugs for moderate income under-insured people on Medicare and other insurance plans with high deductibles and co-pays. This is the only organization in Spokane dedicated to providing expertise in accessing prescribed mediation on a community-wide basis and claims an $18 to $1 return on investment for its funders, including HSSA.
  • Volunteers of America (VOA) Hot Spotters program will receive $100,000 to provide improved health outcomes for high-need residents who often present to emergency departments, emergency responders, community court system and mental health providers with a complex blend of social, medical, mental health and/or substance abuse matters, sometimes referred to as “hot spotters” for the frequency of their high cost visits to providers.

“We have now awarded nearly $1.9 million in Access to Care grants in our County to organizations who do the important work with people who otherwise would not receive health care services or would seek these services from other expensive options,” Isserlis said.

HSSA’s other strategic initiative is to increase local health sciences research and the infrastructure that supports it, and designates 75 percent of its revenues for that purpose. Research grants are open year-round for proposals who meet HSSA criteria in one of its research categories. HSSA has invested nearly $5 million to date in health science research and infrastructure grants. This includes over $20 million in extramural federal grant funding to Spokane. More information about all HSSA grants may be found at www.hssaspokane.org.

HSSA Announces Two Board Vacancies

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Health Sciences and Services Authority (HSSA) of Spokane County has announced two vacancies on its nine-person Board of Directors. These positions will be appointed one each by the Mayor of Spokane and by the Spokane County Commissioners. These local governmental organizations have their own application process found on their respective websites www.spokanecity.org and www.spokanecounty.org under Boards & Commissions.

The HSSA Board seeks individuals to fill these vacancies preferably with professional life/health sciences experiences in the private sector and/or academia. Experience successfully starting and operating health/life science businesses is preferred, but not mandatory. The HSSA Board meets quarterly.

HSSA Board members serve four-year terms but in the case of these two vacancies where new members will fulfill existing terms, the County appointee would initially serve until May 2019, and the City appointee will serve until July 2019. When the terms expire there is the opportunity to serve additional terms.

HSSA has invested approximately $5 million to date in health science researchers, research and infrastructure in the county. It also has invested about $2 million in its annual Access to Care grants to promote public health. It has created over 460 direct/indirect jobs and $52 million in total economic activity.

Questions about these Board vacancies may be directed to the Executive Director at 509.474.0798 or susan@hssaspokane.org.

Concerns for Higher Education/Research in New D.C. Administration Outlined by WSU Pharmacy Dean Pollack

Here is a thoughtful discussion from Dr. Gary Pollack, WSU Dean of the College of Pharmacy and HSSA Board Member. Dr. Pollack outlines concerns for higher education and research at the federal level in a new Administration. The article first appeared in the College's e-newsletter Cougar RX.

A new administration in Washington D.C. always brings uncertainty to higher education. Changes in policy, budgetary priorities, and politico-social philosophy can have profound effects on colleges and universities, especially public institutions with a significant research mission.

The current anxiety in higher education is more acute than most of us have experienced in our lifetimes. Within academic health sciences in particular, there are at least three key areas of concern:

  • Vulnerability of the NIH budget given the administration’s stated goals directing priorities to other areas. Without associated reductions in entitlement programs, it is unclear how a congress previously committed to a balanced budget will approve these new expenditures without significant cuts in a variety of federal programs, including those that fund basic and applied research.
  • “Fake science” may become institutionalized. The first indication of this potential trend is the recent alleged commission on “vaccine safety and scientific integrity” (suggesting that the integrity of the science that has demonstrated conclusively that vaccines are safe and effective will be under attack). A recent outbreak of mumps in Washington state, including a large cluster of cases in Spokane County, is a reminder of the critical importance that immunizations are to public health.
  • Restrictions on immigration may have an impact on academic research. A significant plurality of students pursuing advanced degrees in the sciences at U.S. universities are from overseas. These international students are not displacing U.S. citizens from academic programs; there is simply an insufficient supply of domestic students who are interested in advanced training in the sciences, including biomedical and health sciences. The fear of losing the ability to enroll qualified international students in advanced degree-granting programs within the academy is real. The realization of that fear ultimately being a reduction in the science workforce with significant and persistent long-term costs to the economy.

Among these areas of concern, the debate continues as to which one is the most important and how each will impact the policy landscape surrounding higher education and research. In this environment of anxiety we need to keep several thoughts close to both heart and mind; thoughts which are part of the very fabric that our university community is comprised of and which, I believe, cannot be reiterated too much. At WSU we hold the following core values:

  • We are committed to being a community that protects the free exchange of ideas while encouraging dialog that is constructive and civil.
  • We embrace a worldview that recognizes and values the importance of domestic and global diversity, global interdependence, and sustainability.

Time will tell us what the final policy landscape will look like. In the meantime I know that the progress we have made as a college, university and community cannot be undone if we keep our core values close to heart and continue to collaborate on the solutions that will advance, promote and protect human health. This is the vision of our college’s land-grant heritage and tradition of service to society, and is why we strive every day for excellence in collaborative research and scholarship, and developing outstanding health care professionals and scientists.

Spokane-based PAML to be sold to LabCorp

Life sciences company LabCorp, headquartered in Burlington, N.C. intends to purchase Spokane-based Pathology Associates Medical Laboratories from its current owners, Providence Health & Services, Renton, WA, and Catholic Health Initiatives, Boulder, CO. The companies confirmed the sale in a news release issued yesterday.

PAML employs 1,600 people, about 500 employed in Spokane where the company is headquartered. Its President & CEO, Francisco Velazquez, MD, SM, is also a member of HSSA's board of directors. The sale is likely to continue through 2017 into 2018.

WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine Gets NWCCU Accreditation

WSU's Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine in Spokane has now achieved another major milestone when it received news this week that WSU was granted accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) for the doctor of medicine program it will be offering.

Founding Dean John Tomkowiak, MD, MOL, said the accreditation process was a rigorous one and required enormous combined effort of faculty, staff and administration. "This is a major step that allows the university to confer the MD degree to graduating medical school students," said Dr. Tomkowiak.

The inaugural class of medical students will begin in August 2017.

Life Science Washington Commercialization Bootcamp & Networking Events in Spokane

Life Science Washington is partnering with WSU Spokane and Startup Spokane to host a networking event March 16th, 5:30-7:00 PM at Startup Spokane, 610 W 2nd Avenue, Spokane. It's called Ecosystem (as in the life sciences ecosystem) Connect. The next day on March 17th from 9 AM - 4 PM at WSU Spokane Room SAC 147, the partners will deliver a one day bootcamp. Topics to be covered include funding sources, regulatory issues, IP/legal issues and market research. These events are FREE to attend. Registration for the Ecosystem Connect networking event is www.eventbrite.com/e/ecosystem-connect-networking-... and registration for the bootcamp is www.lifesciencewa.org/event/LSBootcampCourse. For more information, contact Kayla Young, Kayla@lifesciencewa.org. The event is funded by a grant from the Life Sciences Discovery Fund.

UW CoMotion Labs Expand to Spokane

CoMotion, the University of Washington's collaborative innovation hub, recently expanded its CoMotion Labs to Spokane. The intent is to connect the region's vibrant startup community more fully with western Washington's. Called CoMotion Labs @ Spokane, its mission is to contribute to the growth of the innovation community in Eastern Washington by bringing UW resources, assets, tools and networks to the region. UW suggests the focus of the Spokane lab will be on manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture and robotics. CoMotion Labs hired Brady Ryan as the CoMotion Labs @ Spokane manager. He most recently was the commercialization manager and business development manager at Life Science Washington. Ryan will be located at the UW Spokane Center in downtown Spokane.

"Spokane's University District and the entrepreneurial ecosystem will greatly benefit with the presence of University of Washington's CoMotion Labs," said Steve Trabun, Avista regional business manager. "Having CoMotion Labs in our community will further enhance the collaborative opportunities between Startup Spokane, a program of Greater Spokane Incorporated, and our region's colleges and universities. As a result, the entrepreneurial ecosystem will be strengthened to create even more ideas and early stage growth companies in technology, life sciences, and other emerging areas."

Velazquez, Ashe elected to Life Science Washington Board Positions

HSSA Board member Dr. Francisco Velazquez, PAML President & CEO, has been appointed to the Executive Committee of the Life Science Washington Board. Susan Ashe, HSSA Executive Director, also was elected to the statewide board for her first term. Life Science Washington is an independent, non-profit trade association serving the life sciences industry in the state of Washington.The organization advocates for positive public policy and private investment, and brings together research institutions, investors and entrepreneurs to grow its economic sector and create healthier communities.

Spokane Public Radio features HSSA

In a Spokane Public Radio story featuring HSSA and its recent four "Access to Care" grants, reporter Doug Nadvornick shares with his audience information about HSSA and these important grants. To read and listen to the story, click here.