Clinic for uninsured captures state award

Sequim's Dungeness Valley Health and Wellness Clinic has been honored with the Washington State Hospital Association's 2009 Community Health Leadership Award.

At Dungeness Valley Health and Wellness Clinic, professional health care volunteers provide quality basic medical care to uninsured and underinsured people who live in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.

The clinic offers four main services to its patients: a twice weekly primary care clinic, a chronic health care clinic, dental referral services and wellness education. The clinic began providing care in 2001 to the growing number of uninsured adults in the community.

Adapting to needs

The selection committee for the award was particularly impressed by the clinic's adaptability in responding to community needs. DVHWC created a chronic care clinic to help those with chronic conditions and opened capacity for more walk-in patients in the primary care clinic. DVHWC also began helping with dental care as staff saw their patients with increasing needs for those services.

"I am very proud and pleased that the clinic has been recognized by the Washington State Hospital Association in this very positive way," said John Beitzel, executive director.

"This recognition brings to mind something I've known for a long time: This clinic could not exist were it not for the compassion and generosity of our community.

"We are blessed by the services of volunteer providers and all of the other volunteers, by our staff and by the financial support received from our donors and by the strong partnership we enjoy with Olympic Medical Center.

"Our ability to serve an otherwise unserved portion of our population is a huge team effort," Beitzel said.

'A shining example'

Award recipients are chosen by the Washington State Hospital Association's Governing Boards Committee, made up of hospital trustees and commissioners from across the state. At least a dozen applications are received each year.

"It's quite an honor and pretty amazing," said clinic director Rose Gibbs.

"It means we've worked strongly in partnership with OMC and other agencies to respond to the community's health needs."

Leo Greenawalt, president of the Washington State Hospital Association, said, "The Dungeness Valley Health and Wellness Clinic is a shining example of how communities can come together to provide their uninsured residents with excellent care. They are making a tremendous difference in the lives of the people they serve. It is a pleasure to give them this award."

The Washington State Hospital Association represents all of Washington's 98 community hospitals. The association takes a major leadership role in issues that affect delivery, quality, accessibility, affordability and continuity of health care. It works to improve the health status of the residents of Washington.

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