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'community partnership' posts

Swedish introduces new specialty dental clinic

(Ed. note: A version of this will appear in the Spring/Summer issue of Impact.)

Access to specialty dental care for the uninsured and underinsured in our community took a significant step forward with the recent opening of the Swedish Community Specialty Clinic dental program, the first of its kind in the Puget Sound area.

Oral health services have become less available to low-income individuals since the state funding of adult Medicaid dental programs was cut in January, 2011. The funding cuts have also affected dental-care access for developmentally disabled and elderly populations. These reductions have led to an increase in hospital visits, as severe dental pain is among the top five reasons underserved patients utilize the emergency room.

In response to this critical need, Swedish began brainstorming new ways to address the gap in care offerings. In September, 2010, Swedish opened the innovative Swedish Community Specialty Clinic (SCSC) as part of its more than 100 year commitment to providing excellent medical care to all in need, regardless of their ability to pay. The SCSC is designed to treat low-income uninsured or underinsured patients with services including orthopedics, dermatology, cardiology, gynecology, neurology, occupational therapy, podiatry and many others. Adding a dental program was a natural next step for the SCSC. In collaboration with Seattle Special Care Dentistry and Project Access Northwest, Swedish embarked on a plan to install three new procedure areas, fully equipped for specialty-care services, within the SCSC.

At the January 17 ribbon cutting. From left to right: Amy Winston, DDS, Bart Johnson DDS - both from Seattle Specialty Dental Program. Jerry Retsema- Burkhart Dental Supply. Princy Rekha, DDS – Seattle King County Dental Society & Foundation. Dan Dixon – Vice President, External Affairs at Swedish. 

The dental clinic is designed as a referral-based service for patients who are at or below 200 percent of poverty level. Patients are referred to the clinic through Project Access Northwest. Swedish estimates some 30 volunteer dental professionals will see up to 450 patients in the first year of the clinic’s operation. As many as 45 volunteer dentists and oral surgeons will treat an estimated 2,000 patients in its second year. The initial focus of the clinic is difficult tooth extractions with plans to include endodontic and periodontal services in the future.

State budget crisis may hurt community clinics that serve the poor and uninsured

Swedish was proud to host several community clinics and their patients this week at a vigil on our First Hill campus. The goal was to urge lawmakers, who are currently in Olympia and facing difficult decisions about the state’s budget crisis, to protect funding for community health clinics dedicated to serving uninsured and low-income individuals.

Individuals gather in support of community health clinics

More than 200 individuals gathered at the vigil.

Local clinics – such as Country Doctor, Health Point, International Community Health Services, Sea Mar, Seattle Indian Health Board and Neighbor Care – play a vital role in the health care safety net of our community.

And they are some of Swedish’s most important partners. Together, we work to provide access to health care for those in need regardless of income or insurance status.

In this economy, however, that has not been easy. We have seen a surge in uninsured and low-income patient populations. Swedish provided $112 million in charity care, Medicaid subsidies and other community benefits in 2010, double the amount from the previous year.

Dr-Perez-CHC-event.jpg
Dr. Julian Perez speaks at the vigil.


Meeting the needs of underserved populations is something no single organization can do alone. It requires partnership and collaboration. 

Our work with the community health clinics is an excellent example of that. The community clinics play an important role by providing front-line primary care in local community. Swedish supports their work by making our hospitals, diagnostic services, specialists and ERs accessible to their patients and providers.

While we understand the budget realities facing our state, we encourage you to learn more about this critical issue and we urge our lawmakers to seek creative solutions to these difficult problems.

Swedish and Providence Join Forces to Improve Health Care

These are some of the most challenging times in our country’s history for both health care and the economy. As Greater Seattle’s largest nonprofit provider, we believe it is Swedish’s responsibility to lead the region through these difficult times and serve the community no matter what the circumstances. Today, I am very proud to announce that Swedish is leading the way in partnership with Providence Health & Services. Both of our boards recently approved an innovative plan to join forces and form a new integrated health system to serve Western Washington.

There are still many details to be worked out, and the affiliation is pending regulatory review. But when finalized, our new system will dramatically improve health care for the region and serve as a local solution to the nation’s health-care crisis.

What makes our affiliation so innovative is that it is not a merger or acquisition. Rather, it is a unique structure that will allow us to work together to coordinate care for the region while respecting our individual identities and heritage.

In other words, Swedish will still be Swedish. We are keeping our name and will not become a Catholic organization. Likewise, Providence will still be Providence. They will keep their name and maintain their Catholic identity.

What will change, however, is that we will closely collaborate to coordinate care seamlessly for patients from Centralia to Seattle to Everett by:

  • Harnessing the power of electronic health records to better serve patients and improve clinical outcomes
  • Using our collective data to drive rapid quality and safety improvements
  • Sharing resources to assure underserved communities have access to the continuum of care, including subspecialized care and innovative research
  • Working together to implement best practices and gain operating efficiencies so that we can reduce costs and make health care more affordable for government payers, commercial insurers and employers.

A partner with a shared mission

Global to Local: Impacting the SeaTac and Tukwila Communities

Continuing Swedish’s long-standing commitment to improve the health and well-being of our region, Swedish has partnered with Washington Global Health Alliance, Public Health of Seattle & King County, and HealthPoint to address disparities in local healthcare through a groundbreaking initiative: Global to Local.

The Global to Local initiative is a new approach in applying global solutions to local healthcare challenges in underserved populations. The partnership reached out to SeaTac and Tukwila, which are just 15 miles south of Seattle and are both strong, vibrant communities with a long history of activism and community pride. However, with the settlement of new immigrants and refugees there have been many challenged for access to healthcare. Currently there are over 70 languages spoken in SeaTac and Tukwila schools and households. Many families have never seen a primary care doctor or do not know how to navigate through the healthcare system. These challenges have increased the need for additional services to address the basic needs of the community.

What will Global to Local do?

Come See the New Swedish/Issaquah This Saturday

It’s not every day you get a chance to build a hospital from the ground up. In fact, the last time it happened in King County was 25 years ago. Help us celebrate this historic milestone this Saturday, July 9 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the new Swedish/Issaquah, and get an up close and personal view of an innovative approach to health care that’s all about helping the community be well, get well and stay well.

What's happening at the event? Click for more information.

Specialty Dental Services now available for the uninsured at Swedish

What do you do if you don’t have insurance and need healthcare? The Swedish Community Specialty Clinic is here to help – and it is designed exclusively to treat low-income uninsured or underinsured patients.  We provide advanced medical care at no cost by volunteer specialists from Swedish and several other physician groups.

At Swedish Community Specialty Clinic, we:

  • Provide another resource for those who have no other options for specialized care.
  • Combine several existing and new services under one roof and improve care through innovations such as electronic health records.
  • Server as a dedicated space for volunteer physicians to meet with patients.
  • Include a support staff to help maintain physician schedules and set initial visits and follow-ups.

“The Specialty Clinic is a testament to Swedish’s commitment to serve the entire community,” says Swedish CEO  Dr. Rod Hochman. “We want to set a new standard in community health and clearly demonstrate that charity care is a core part of our non-profit mission, which continues even in a down economy.”

The clinic, which cares for patients with appointments on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., is located near advanced medical imaging facilities and other specialty-care professionals. We estimate more than 2,000 patients will be seen at the facility each year for dermatology, general surgery, hand surgery, orthopedics and podiatric surgery services.

Patients likely to use the new clinic:

We talk the talk - let's start walking

Today (April 6) is National Start! Walking Day. Swedish is partnering with the American Heart Association to mobilize walkers from Cherry Hill, First Hill, Ballard, and Met Park (some of our campuses) to participate in National Start! Walking Day. We're coordinating this effort to encourage and motivate Swedish employees to walk one mile at noon.

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