By Kari Bray Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Providence Everett Healthcare Clinic sees thousands of patients every year who can’t afford a doctor’s visit.
The clinic, located on the Everett Community College campus, is part of Providence’s community benefit program. About 15,000 people visited the clinic last year.
Providence Health Services of Northwest Washington donated more than $50 million in funding and services in 2013, nearly half of which was to provide free and discounted medical care for low-income or uninsured patients.
“It’s really to reach out to folks who don’t have insurance or whose insurance won’t cover the whole visit,” Providence spokeswoman Cheri Russum said.
The clinic at Everett Community College is also a training site for University of Washington nursing students.
“We try to create innovative programs so we can serve more patients at a lower cost,” Providence Northwest CEO Preston Simmons said.
Combining education and charity care at the Everett Healthcare Clinic is one way Providence gives back to the community, he said. The organization is rooted in the Catholic religion and was founded with the intent to care for those who need it most.
Providence has a 158-year history in the Northwest corner of the U.S. Five Sisters of Providence started the organization, which now spans five states.
The company has been part of Everett for more than a century, Simmons said. It’s the second-largest private employer in Snohomish County behind Boeing.
Along with dedicating more than $20 million to charity care, Providence is involved in a number of partnerships throughout the county.
At Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center, Providence provides the nurses who work with children after a sexual assault. Providence also hosts a Children’s Center that provides speech and physical therapies along with family counseling for children with disabilities. The hospital recently added the county’s only Center for Autism.
“There are a variety of services we offer that if we didn’t, no one else would,” Simmons said.
Working with other health care agencies, Providence aims to tackle some of the county’s and state’s most pressing medical concerns. Simmons said those include obesity, suicide, dental care, physical abuse, prenatal care and access to primary care.
“We have some of the best access and some of the worst access, depending on the location in the state, for prenatal care,” he said. “It’s really how do we make sure everybody in the county has access to care in one way or another.”
Health care during pregnancy helps keep both mother and child healthy, and children’s health care is a significant piece of Providence’s mission, Simmons said.
As part of the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition, Providence supported one of the state’s largest research efforts regarding youth obesity.
The coalition spearheaded a project last year to track the physical activity of about 7,000 fifth-graders. The goal is to analyze a year’s worth of data and learn why obesity might be more prevalent in certain areas of the county, and what can be done to get children more active.
“You start to ask those questions about why there are some areas of the county that are more active than others, and then you can begin tackling that issue of childhood obesity,” Russum said.
The coalition also is focused on palliative care to help families, patients and physicians coordinate better, more affordable end-of-life care. Full-circle medical care, from prenatal appointments to youth fitness to end-of-life care, should be accessible and affordable for everyone in the county, Simmons said.
Providence designates 2 percent of its profits for its community benefit program. That means every $500 in profit generates $10 for free and discounted care or programs like Dawson Place and the Children’s Center
In Everett, that contribution has added up to about $268 million in five years, Simmons said.
The Providence General Foundation raises funds separate from the company’s community benefit. Donors can designate where they would like their dollars to go when they give to the foundation. Options include the Children’s Center, Providence Everett Healthcare Clinic, cancer services for patients and family members, and heart and vascular care.
Simmons encouraged people to donate to the foundation.
“It takes about $500 at the hospital to generate $10 for the (community benefit program),” he said. “That $10 can go a lot further with the foundation.”
The foundation raised $2 million last year, including $328,000 from about 3,500 employees. Out of the $2 million total, $730,000 went to the Center for Autism and $270,000 went to the Everett Healthcare Clinic at Everett Community College.
“We treat people regardless of their ability to pay,” Russum said. “I’ve been here a long time and I’ve seen the effects these programs have on the community.”
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439, firstname.lastname@example.org.
How you can help
To donate or learn more about the Providence General Foundation, visit http://bit.ly/1tgAun3 or call 425-258-7500.
This story is part of Snohomish County Gives, a special section highlighting the spirit of philanthropy in the county. Look for more stories on HeraldNet throughout the week and the full section in the print edition of The Herald on Sunday, Aug. 31.