WSHA presents 2021 Community Health Leadership Award to state hospitals, health care leaders

October 28, 2021

The Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) on Oct. 28 presented its annual Community Health Leadership Award to five recipients for their work serving the community in innovative ways through the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

WSHA presented the award to the Washington Medical Coordination Center for its work managing hospital patient transfers, Kittitas Valley Health Care and Kittitas Valley Incident Management Team for its community engagement and collaboration with community partners to serve the broader population, Samaritan Healthcare for its COVID-19 response, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health for its COVID-19 vaccination program and Swedish for its Mobile Vaccine Clinic Team.

“We didn’t expect 2021 to be as difficult as it has been,” WSHA CEO Cassie Sauer said. “The wave from the delta variant proved the most vicious yet, sending many hospitals and health systems across the country into crisis standards of care, but it never happened in Washington. By working together with communities across the state, hospitals balanced patient loads, cared for those in need and helped residents get vaccinated. We are proud of the work done by each of our award winners.”

The Washington Medical Coordination Center (WMCC) is a product of ongoing collaboration between the Washington Disaster Medical Coordination Centers and the Northwest Health Care Response Network. Housed out of UW Medicine’s Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, the WMCC was established to triage and place COVID-19 and related patients requiring acute hospital care in an equitable manner across the state. Its goal is to prevent any single hospital or group of hospitals from experiencing significant COVID-19-related resource strain by managing patient transfers.

Kittitas County mobilized the Kittitas County Incident Management Team in March 2020 to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health. Kittitas Valley Healthcare in Ellensburg was a key partner, with the health system’s staff serving in various positions of leadership on the team. Throughout the pandemic, the Incident Management Team responded to outbreaks and led mass-vaccination efforts in the community.

Samaritan Healthcare in Moses Lake responded to the pandemic by creating a surge plan that would allow the hospital to quadruple its capacity and launching extensive communications vehicles to keep staff and the community updated on the virus’ local impact. It also partnered with the Grant County Health District and the Grand Coulee Health Alliance to support local vaccination efforts. To date they have administered 15,000 vaccinations, offering educational materials in English and Spanish and live translators speaking Ukrainian and Japanese.

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health in Seattle developed a vaccination program spanning three counties, eight hospitals and many more clinics and community vaccination sites. Partnering with Amazon, they hosted 25 weekend SuperVax events to vaccinate 3,100 people per day. Partnering with businesses, schools, community organizations and churches, they focused on reaching the most vulnerable with vaccine access, hosting vaccine events at cultural centers, churches in underserved communities, metro-transit locations and school districts. The health system also partnered with Seattle sports partners – including the Seattle Seahawks, Mariners and Sounders – to offer vaccines at sporting locations. Across all venues, the health system has administered 375,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Swedish Health Services in Seattle launched its Mobile COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics to reach underserved communities with COVID-19 vaccinations. They partnered with CellNetix, T-Mobile, Denali, SEIU and YMCA of Greater Seattle to visit 21 sites, including the Ethiopian Community Center, numerous churches and the Pacific Islander Community Association. They also held mass vaccination clinics at Seattle University and Lumen Field. In all, Swedish’s Mobile Clinics distributed more than 9,100 COVID-19 vaccines.

WSHA’s Community Health Leadership Award is given annually by WSHA’s Hospital Governing Boards Committee to hospitals and health systems that are serving their communities’ broader health needs in innovative and lasting ways. In 2020 and 2021, the awards focused on response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About UW Medicine

UW Medicine is one of the top-rated academic medical systems in the world. With a mission to improve the health of the public, UW Medicine educates the next generation of physicians and scientists, leads one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive biomedical research programs, and provides outstanding care to patients from across the globe. UW Medicine includes Airlift Northwest, Harborview Medical Center, UW Medical Center – Montlake, UW Medical Center – Northwest, UW Neighborhood Clinics, UW Physicians, UW School of Medicine and Valley Medical Center.

About Kittitas Valley Health Care

Situated in the heart of Washington, Kittitas County Public Hospital District No. 1 provides care to Kittitas County and surrounding areas. The public hospital district is governed by a five-member elected Board of Commissioners and is almost exclusively supported by revenue generated from patient services.

Kittitas County Public Hospital District No. 1 does business as Kittitas Valley Healthcare (KVH).

KVH Hospital provides 24-hour emergency care and offers inpatient and outpatient hospital services.

KVH provides care through clinics and specialty services in both Upper and Lower Kittitas County. KVH clinics include ear, nose, throat & allergy, cardiology, dermatology, family medicine, internal medicine, neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics general surgery, urgent care, vascular surgery, women’s health, workplace health. Specialty services provide home health, hospice, physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy and wound care services.

About Samaritan Health Care

Located in Moses Lake, Washington, Samaritan Healthcare is comprised of a 50-bed community hospital and (2) rural health clinics. With over 700 employees, and 40+ physicians and providers on staff, Samaritan is one of the region’s largest employers. Samaritan is led by CEO, Theresa Sullivan, and together with the Senior Leadership Team, Clinic Operations Team, and countless Samaritan Team members, together the organization has helped administer over 30,000 COVID-19 vaccines since December 2020.

About Virginia Mason Franciscan Health

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is an integrated health system serving the Puget Sound region of Washington state, offering access to some of the country’s most prestigious experts and hospitals that are internationally known for superior quality. With a team of 18,000 team members, including nearly 5,000 employed physicians and affiliated providers, we unite the brightest health care minds in the region to provide world-class clinical excellence at 11 hospitals and nearly 300 sites of care throughout the Puget Sound area. We are proud to be the home of Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the United States designed specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS, and Benaroya Research Institute, which is internationally recognized for autoimmune disease research. We embrace our community’s uniquely vibrant, active culture by providing holistic, personalized and patient-centered care. We are committed to caring for the most vulnerable in our communities, including the poor and underserved, providing more than $300 million in community benefit — free, subsidized, and reduced cost health care and programs.

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health was formed in 2021 by bringing together two leading health systems in Washington state. Our family of hospitals includes Virginia Mason Hospital, Seattle; St. Anthony Hospital, Gig Harbor; St. Clare Hospital, Lakewood; St. Elizabeth Hospital, Enumclaw; St. Francis Hospital, Federal Way; St. Joseph Medical Center, Tacoma; St. Michael Medical Center, Silverdale and Bremerton; St. Anne Hospital, Burien; Rehabilitation Hospital, Tacoma; and Wellfound Behavioral Health Hospital, Tacoma. Learn more at

About Swedish

Founded in 1910, Swedish is one of the largest not-for-profit health care systems in the Greater Seattle area. It is comprised of five hospital campuses (First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, Edmonds and Issaquah); ambulatory care centers in Redmond and Mill Creek; and a network of more than 115 primary care and specialty-care clinics located throughout the Greater Puget Sound area. Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatric specialties, organ transplantation and clinical research. In 2020, Swedish provided $258 million in community benefit programs, including $30 million in free and discounted care in Western Washington.


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