Since our founding in 2006, Project Access Northwest has relied on thousands of volunteers to bring life-changing care to patients in need. Typically we focus on our 1700+ volunteer providers who donate care for our patients. But we have volunteers of all sorts—from students to retired professionals, both in and out of the medical field—working behind the scenes and supporting our mission.
Telling our story:
Charlie Bartlett and Jean MacKinnon
When we expressed an interest in telling the Project Access Northwest story through a short video, freelance motion graphics artist Charlie Bartlett answered the call. He donated not only his time and tremendous talent, but also his high-tech equipment. His generosity made capturing our story in video possible.
Jean MacKinnon, a patient who received hip replacement surgery in October 2012, volunteered to share her story on screen. It was her way of giving back to an organization that relieved her pain and gave her hope for a bright future. Through her story, she reveals how easy it is for anyone in our community to become uninsured and how important it is for us to help restore a patient’s health before they lose everything.
The video is in the editing stage now, and we are excited to see—and share—the final product!
From the moment we first met Dan Howell, who was interviewing for a position on our volunteer board, we knew he had something special to offer. In addition to his background in health care, he understood data and knew how to use it to tell a story. His skills were perfect for the challenge we faced: How could we measure the value of our services? Dan took on the challenge and within the first 30 minutes of a meeting with key board members, staff and funders, Dan had written an algorithm that would deliver the results we needed. Within a few months, we had calculated the value of gastroenterology services delivered to our patients. The average value of care is $3,480—more than a tenfold return on our average cost of care coordination ($325). Next, Dan determined that orthopedics returned an average $4,563 in care—more than 14 times our care coordination costs! Dan has been an invaluable resource in helping us tell our story, and we continue to research other areas of care.
Reaching out to patients, coordinating care:
Former board member Susan Peskura introduced Andrea Ondrušek to Project Access Northwest. Andrea needed a 220-hour internship to successfully complete her coursework. She managed basic administrative tasks initially, but she was clearly capable of more. She soon took on important responsibilities in our Health Home and Premium Assistance programs. She contacted patients, scheduled appointments, provided resources and created valuable documents for our new program. When her internship ended, she generously offered to continue volunteering. She comes in one day each week to assist wherever she is needed. Andrea has become an integral part of the team, and we are so grateful to have her!
Palak Shah, DDS
Sometimes when you need help, all you have to do is ask. That’s what happened when we placed an ad for a volunteer Dental Coordinator. Dr. Palak Shah, a practicing dentist from Ontario, Canada, volunteered to fill the role. She is living in Seattle this year with her husband and two young children while her husband pursues additional training as a neurosurgeon. Licensed by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario but unable to practice in Washington state, Dr. Shah had both time and expertise to share, and she jumped right in, assisting us with all things dental. From reviewing dental referrals for appropriateness of care to the design of the dental program itself, Dr. Shah has provided guidance on messaging and insight into what is realistic in the dental community (specialties, type of care that can be donated without hardship, etc.). She also participated in a dental access meeting in Snohomish county and helped identify next steps for how we might proceed with dental services.
Allison Covey, ARNP and Violet Robb, RN
Looking for ways to give back to their community, nurses Allison Covey and Violet Robb reached out to Project Access Northwest as volunteers. We quickly put them to work in our Care Coordination program, “scrubbing” referrals (ensuring that patients qualify for care, are assigned to appropriate specialties, have the needed labs and diagnostic imaging, etc.). They are also helping us determine the value of our services by reviewing referral outcomes and researching the costs of those services.
“I love feeling like I am contributing to patients receiving necessary specialty care,” says Covey. “It is in some ways more fulfilling than my job working in the Emergency Room, because without Project Access Northwest, these patients would not be able to receive care!”
“Helping an organization that increases accessibility makes me feel like I’m doing a small part to help those who otherwise may go without the care they need,” explains Robb. “It’s only a few hours per week, but I know the time I spend here will have a positive impact on the overall health and well-being of [our] patients.”