Community Benefit

Project Access Northwest Facilitates Specialty Services for Those in Need

Washington has long been known as one of the most progressive states in the country when it comes to the innovative delivery of quality health care — both for the insured and, just as importantly, people without the means to afford necessary specialty services.

One of the reasons the region’s disadvantaged have had such good access to high-quality specialty services is because of the critical conduit role Seattle-based nonprofit, Project Access Northwest (PANW), plays in working with both people in need and Puget Sound-area hospitals, like Virginia Mason.

image description Peter J. Verdin Jr., MD, (left) is among the 300 Virginia Mason providers who donate their time and services to Project Access Northwest.

PANW helps provide specialty health care services to uninsured, underinsured and low-income residents of King, Snohomish and Kitsap counties. It depends on physicians, dentists (in select areas), community partners and hospitals volunteering their time and services to help patients for free. PANW also offers innovative programs such as:

  • Care Coordination
  • Home Health
  • Hospital Inpatient Discharge
  • Premium Assistance

To help fund an array of services — including those listed above, telephonic interpreters and logistical support — Virginia Mason supports PANW as part of its Community Benefit work.

“Since I could not walk, didn’t think I could afford the surgery and would have been challenged with having to seek care far from home, I feel very fortunate to have received my knee replacement.”

Currently, almost 300 Virginia Mason providers periodically donate their time and expertise in a variety of specialties so PANW patients can receive needed services free of charge. Team members who volunteer from Virginia Mason include:

  • 41 from Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • 29 with The Heart Institute
  • 23 from The Digestive Disease Institute
  • 19 from General Surgery
  • 10 with the Neuroscience Institute

In 2018, PANW helped arrange for 144 patients to receive high-quality specialty services at Virginia Mason Hospital and Seattle Medical Center and the eight other regional medical centers.

One such patient is 58-year-old Everett resident, Avelina Reyes, who benefited from free knee replacement surgery in 2018. In fact, she was the first PANW patient from Snohomish County to receive total joint replacement surgery, which was performed by orthopedic surgeon Peter J. Verdin Jr., MD, who practices at Virginia Mason Lynnwood Medical Center and Virginia Mason Hospital and Seattle Medical Center.

“Since I could not walk, didn’t think I could afford the surgery and would have been challenged with having to seek care far from home, I feel very fortunate to have received my knee replacement. I know I would not have had this needed surgery without Project Access Northwest and Virginia Mason working together,” says Avelina. “Everyone — from the surgeon and nurses, to the interpreters, physical therapists and front-desk staff — were very kind and worked hard to keep me informed, help get me to my conveniently located appointments and allow me to regain my mobility. I am so grateful for everything!”

Having partnered with PANW for many years, Virginia Mason is experienced at helping ensure that when a person in need requires care, all the backend and support service departments work together in a seamless, efficient, patient-focused way.

“It never ceases to amaze me how impressive the behind-the-scenes teamwork is with these cases — from patient financial services, to social work, to the clinic and operating room staff, interpreter services and physical therapy,” says Dr. Verdin. “It even includes our medical device partner, who donates the necessary joint replacement components.”

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