COVID-19 is having a significant impact on our medically vulnerable population.

Project Access Northwest connects patients living at or below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level to specialty medical care free of charge to each patient. We have a network of 1720 volunteer providers spanning more than 40 specialties (Cardiology, Oncology, Neurology, etc.), who care for our patients through all of the hospitals and hospital systems in King, Kitsap and Snohomish counties. The majority of our patients are non-English speaking, and we use telephonic interpreters to facilitate their access to care.

Our services are a critical part of the region’s safety net, and it is imperative that we are working with our vulnerable population during this difficult time.

So what are we doing to mitigate the impacts and to help our patients and programs thrive?

To start, we have moved all 15 of our staff to remote home offices so that we may continue to effectively respond to the needs of patients, help “flatten the curve” and ease the overwhelming burden of Emergency Departments, which now report even more limited space and resources than before. Our work is life-changing and in many instances life-saving and provides a unique safety net to both patients and the quadruple aim of the health care system. We were able to make this move thanks to a generous technology grant from our partners at HealthierHere. These funds allowed us to upgrade our phone systems and our remote server to allow our staff to fully and completely work from home. It also affords us the ability to upgrade software to a more robust platform, allowing for faster and more efficient work. These upgrades mean that all of our patients are able to receive our services without interruption or changes.

In addition to working from home, to help “flatten the curve,” we have the ability to build on trusting relationships with our thousands of patients. We are doing that with a new pilot project and a familiar partnerships:

We are currently working with our great friends at the Verdant Health Commission. Through a generous grant they have provided, we are able to reach out to 1400 South Snohomish patients in order to assess them for COVID-19 symptoms, educate them on social distancing, ensure they know what to do if they have symptoms or other medical needs, and provide them with resources. This project will allow the most vulnerable members of Verdant’s community to rely on a trusted partner to help them through this difficult time.

We also have a new six-month pilot project that is a direct response to COVID-19. This is made possible through a tremendous grant and partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. With our great friends at UW/Harborview Medical Center, we are teaming up to connect patients languishing in beds at the hospital with legal guardians who can access the appropriate services for them to be discharged so they can fully recover in a more appropriate setting. We are using our expertise in care coordination to institute these relationships. This pilot project allows for a considerable number of beds to be freed up during this time when hospital resources are stretched thin. It also better provides for the welfare of the patient when they can be in an appropriate setting.

We are proud of the work we are able to do to serve our population during this pandemic. We remain flexible and ready to utilize our expertise in new and important ways. If you have questions about our response or any of our programs/pilot project, please don’t hesitate to reach out.