Legislature Grants HSSA 15-Year Extension

What exciting news to receive (even if it was 1:09 AM Sunday morning), but our bill to extend HSSA another 15 years passed the 2019 Washington State Legislature. What an accomplishment for our team! We spent quite a bit of time this session in Olympia urging the passage of our bill, and particular thanks to Nancy Isserlis, Dave Vachon, and Frank Velazquez for delivering our message at hearings and/or directly to legislators. Apparently, the third time is the charm as this was our third attempt to get traction for passage, and we were able to do so with our legislative leadership. Our message about HSSA's return on its investment in the region of over $100 million in economic activity to date and hundreds of well-paying jobs, certainly helped elicit support.

We want to especially thank Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-3) who nurtured out bill through the Senate, bill sponsor Senator Jeff Holy (R-6) who spoke at hearings in favor of the bill in both the Senate and House, Representatives Mike Voltz (R-6) and Timm Ormsby (D-3) for co-sponsoring the House version of our bill, and Representative Marcus Riccelli (D-3) who in his leadership role in the House made sure our bill moved expeditiously through the House and made sure late last week it was pulled from Committee to the Floor for the final vote. All of these leaders played critical roles at critical times during tthe process and deserve our sincere thanks. If you are able to do so, please reach out and thank them for their continued support through to the finish.

We are going to celebrate this passage with a reception/party with everyone from legislators to community leaders who supported our effort. and to lobbyists whose organizations volunteered their help to us on a day-to-day basis in session. They were Becky Bogard representing Life Science Washington and Jim Hedrick representing Greater Spokane Incorported. Others representing Avista, Spokane County, University of Washington, Washington State University and the University District were also supportive during the session, signing in at hearings in favor of our bills (we ran parallel bills in both the House and Senate) or testfiying. More details to follow.

Thanks to all of you for your continued support of HSSA’s important mission in our community and region.

Life Science Spokane Networking Event Enjoys Great Turnout

A second Life Science Spokane Networking Event had another great turnout of academicians, researchers, business people and students hosted Oct. 11th at Greater Spokane Incorporated. About 100 attended the evening event and simply got to know one another over free food and beverages. Co-hosts were Life Science Washington, GSI's Vision 2030 and yours truly, HSSA.

Overhead among the many conversations were a couple from Georgia who moved to Camas, WA a year or two ago and came a day early for a weekend in Spokane just to attend this event. They were or are involved in the pharmaceutical industry and they really like it here. Could be future Spokanites!

WSU said it now has over $30 million in extramural grant funding that is, frankly, new dollars percolating in our community economy. They suggested HSSA gets credit for this investment. Thank you, WSU!

Very exciting progress at Iasis Molecular Sciences, too, as it seeks additional funding. This is going to be a big hit one day for the founder and for Spokane, but already has been generating great jobs and research training with a local payroll.

Finally, the folks from Jubilent Hollister Stier love our open forum at these events, nothing planned other than meeting one another. It has encouraged Jubilient to become more engaged in our community.

HSSA Announces 2019 $300,000 "Access to Care" Grant Competition

“Tom” had visited the three Hospital Emergency Department in the city of Spokane 176 times last year and as a result was referred to the “Hot Spotters” program, according to Stephen Miller, Volunteers of America adult services director. "The Hot Spotters program (funded by a grant from Health Sciences and Services Authority (HSSA) of Spokane County) works with over utilizers of our emergency services and connects them to the appropriate care for the health issues they are dealing with. As a result of Hot Spotters and its collaboration with over twenty other agencies, Tom has only visited the emergency room four times in 2018 and all for legitimate health concerns. Multiply that 176 visits by the average cost of an ER visit, and you get a sense of the phenomenal amount of money and ER resources that are being saved by this innovative program. Hot Spotters connects people like Tom to primary care doctor, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, housing and numerous other services," said Miller.

“It happens much too often in our community and across the nation, said Miller.

We simply could not keep up with the caseload we experience without the assistance of the HSSA and the cost to the community would continue to rise,” Miller recently said. “If not in emergency costs at our hospitals, then in jail costs.”

One of the most cost effective programs HSSA funds is the Spokane Prescription Assistance Network that has provided more than $17 million in donated prescribed pharmaceuticals to those who otherwise cannot afford their medications, for a 28 to 1 return on investment, says Kelly Armstrong, SPAN Executive Director.

The Health Sciences & Services Authority (HSSA)of Spokane County is announcing that its annual “Access to Care”grant competition to non-profit and other organizations is open for its 2019 grants. This grant seeks applicants who provide innovative health service delivery and increased access to health care to at risk populations.

The HSSA RFP #14 2019 – Access to Care grant will award up to $300,000 for one or more grants that durably increase the efficiency of health service delivery and that increases access to health care for at risk populations in Spokane County.

Last year, HSSA funded $380,000 to five recipients through its annual “Access to Care” grant, including Volunteers of America mentioned above. Also receiving HSSA grants in 2018 were Catholic Charites/Empire Health Foundation for the “Rising Strong” family-centered treatment and housing project. Partners with Families and Children, the Providence dental program for equipment to serve low income patients, and Spokane Prescription Assistance also were funded.

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

Here are key dates related to HSSA RFP #14 2019 “Access to Care”Grant applicant proposals for funding:

RFP posted date: August 30, 2018

Letter of intent due by 12 noon: September 28, 2018

Final Proposal due by 4 pm: October 25, 2018

Awards announcement: November 30, 2018

Applicants should submit a letter of intent (LOI) on the HSSA website at www.hssaspokane.orgunder the Grants tab and Access to Care. HSSA will acknowledge receipt and for those Applicants who meet HSSA criteria, HSSA will provide a link for the Applicant to use to submit a full proposal. This should expedite the process. HSSA also will coordinate directly with the applicants, if necessary. If the LOI is selected, a full proposal would be due via the HSSA website by 4 pm on October 25, 2018. In addition to the normal requirements of applicants, past recipients should reference in the current proposal the major outcomes in past HSSA grants.

HSSA’s grant competition helps to meet one of its strategic goals to increase access to health services in Spokane County for at risk populations, and represents a fund of about 15 percent of annual revenues designated for this purpose.

“To date we have awarded $2 million in this category, providing resources to those organizations in our County who do the important work with people who otherwise would not receive health care services or would seek these services from the area’s emergency rooms and other expensive options,” Isserlis said. “Some end up incarcerated at taxpayers’ expense, so one of HSSA’s intents is to decrease costs while improving health care services,” Isserlis said.

HSSA’s other strategic initiative is to increase local health sciences researchand the infrastructure that supports it, and designates 75 percent of its revenues for that purpose. In the latter case, the research grants are open year-roundfor proposals at any time, and HSSA has invested $5 million to date in health science research grants.

Together with its Access to Care grants, the organization estimates that it has created a total of 450 jobs and $70 million in total economic activity. This includes approximately $20 million in extramural federal grant funding to Spokane. More information about all HSSA grants may be found at www.hssaspokane.org.

4 Local Health Sciences Companies Receive HSSA Grant-Writing Support

Here are four companies to whom HSSA has recently granted up to $5,000 for consulting on writing SBIR/STTR grants.

  • Preveal Technologies — Dr. Bob Hager, PI - seeks STTR grant for a tablet-based neurofeedback system to improve cognitive function and will use a hardware/software package that will allow an individual to exercise and strength working memory
  • Allele Diagnostics - Scott Sulpizio, Director of R&D - seeks SBIR grant to develop novel genetic test for the rapid diagnosis of sexual development (DSD)
  • Monte Carlo Medical Technologies LLC — Diego Vidal, CEO and Paula Eboli, MD and neurosurgeon - seeks SBIR grant to research and develop its deigned endovascular devices with flourless technology, EB catheters and wires, to reduce x-ray exposure to patients and health care professionals
  • Glucose Revival - Kris Maynard - seeks grant to further research applications and treatments for diabetes, including his medical alert necklace that contains the best available gel to quickly raise blood sugar levels

Our process is such that interested small businesses in need of a federal SBIR or STTR grant in the health sciences may apply online at www.hssaspokane.org by filling out an application at this site. After consideration by key members of the Board, we then agree to provide the small grant or not, and inform the applicant. We provide the names and contact information of the three consultants with whom we work, all of whom have professional experience with NIH or other agencies. The applicant choses with whom he or she will work. The consultant bills HSSA directly for the time spent helping with a grantee’s grant proposal. Fairly simple.

Gordon, Potyk to Serve on HSSA's Board

The Health Sciences & Services Authority (HSSA) of Spokane County recently announced the appointments of two new Board Members to its nine-person board. The two were appointed to four-year terms.

The Board of Spokane County Commissioners has appointed Scott Gordon, Ph.D. Eastern Washington University (EWU) Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs to the HSSA Board.

Spokane Mayor David Condon has appointed Darryl Potyk, M.D., University of Washington (UW) and Gonzaga University (GU) Regional Health Partnership Director of Medical Education, to HSSA’s Board.

Dr. Gordon received his doctorate degree from the University of Tennessee. At EWU he is responsible for overseeing all academic programs and academic administration. This includes all health and allied health programs. He moved to the region last year for the EWU position after having served for more than 20 years at University of Southern Indiana where he had experience with similar boards and initiatives. He is involved locally with the GSI’s Vision 2030 initiative.

Dr. Potyk received his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and his medical degree from the University of Southern California (USC) Medical school. He is a practicing physician with nearly 25 years of experience in graduate medical education (residencies) as well as medical student education. He serves as an Associate Dean for the University of Washington in Spokane. He was tapped to lead the new partnership between the UW Medical School and Gonzaga University last year.

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.