Health consortium receives funds for teaching health center

SPOKANE, Wash. – A Spokane health consortium will receive a $900,000 appropriation from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration to ease the shortage of physicians in Spokane and eastern Washington and support an interprofessional teaching health facility for students in medical sciences, nursing, pharmacy and other health sciences.

The appropriation will fund six new medical residency slots beginning July 1, 2014, with the opportunity to apply for additional funding support up to $2.7 million and 18 residency slots. The funding goes to a new non-profit entity known as the Spokane Teaching Health Center consortium whose partners include Empire Health Foundation, Providence Health Care, and Washington State University Spokane. Teaching health centers are made available through the federal Affordable Care Act.

The new residency slots will be housed at a planned interdisciplinary community clinic that will be based in renovated space on the WSU Spokane campus.  The clinic will provide a venue where health sciences students can learn to practice as health care teams.

“Creating a clinic for our community while providing training for students on our campus has been a goal we’ve been working toward for some time,” said Lisa Brown, chancellor of WSU Spokane. “Getting new residency slots is icing on the cake for our land grant mission of serving the underserved.”

Brown said the clinic’s emphasis is to teach future health care providers, right from the start, to work in interprofessional teams to provide patient care. “This way, when they go into practice, they can continue using this patient-focused model.”

Three of the new residency slots will go to doctors specializing in family medicine— including one in the rural training program— and three to physicians looking to specialize in internal medicine. The clinic will also provide clinical training opportunities to students in medical sciences, nursing and pharmacy and will eventually do the same for students from other health sciences programs based in Spokane, including students from Eastern Washington University and potentially other educational institutions.

Elaine Couture, regional chief executive of Providence Health Care, noted that Eastern Washington has been underserved with regard to the number of residencies. “There are 1,600 residencies in the state but only 105 in eastern and central Washington. These six additional residency slots  bode well for our region since one of the most significant factors determining where a primary care provider will practice is where he or she completed his or her residency.”

Empire Health Foundation will provide community-based governance of the medical residency program, as well as in-kind services and support to implement the project objectives, which include keeping at least half of the residency graduates of the center working in rural and underserved areas.

According to Antony Chiang, president of Empire Health Foundation, “This funding represents a unique opportunity to increase the pipeline of future primary care providers in Eastern Washington, ultimately leading to improved health care access and health outcomes in underserved communities.”


Terren Roloff, WSU Spokane communications, 509-358-7527 (office),  509-720-6245 (cell),

Sarah Lyman, Empire Health Foundation, 509-315-2314,

Sharon Fairchild, Providence Health Care, 509-474-4955,