Elma’s Summit Pacific Medical Center and Hospital District No. 1 are in a race against the clock to establish a residency clinic.
Summit is working with Providence’s St. Peter Family Medicine in Olympia to establish a Rural Training Track (RTT) progam, or residency clinic, in East County and Montesano city officials are hopeful that it would be located there as a way of bringing more medical options to town.
Residents are medical school graduates and considered doctors, but train under more experienced doctors.
St. Peter would run the “core” site where the curriculum is developed and the program is based. The first year of training is generally done at the core program with the final two years switching to a residency site, such as St. Peter’s existing Rural Training Track program in Chehalis, which started about three and a half years ago.
St. Peter is limited to five years to establish additional rural training track programs. It is looking for another community to establish a new program.
St. Peter used federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services funds to establish the Chehalis clinic, which currently has two residents a year and is looking to expand to three.
Summit Pacific CEO Josh Martin said his district has a grant to look at the feasibility of an East County residency clinic.
A spokeswoman for Providence St. Peter said the residency clinic is one of several collaborations they are currently in discussions with Summit Pacific for.
Dr. Judith Pauwels is a family physician and the associate director for new progam development and existing program accrediation for the WWAMI Network of Family Medicine Residency Program. WWAMI stands for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.
The grant Elma received is a “yearly allocation and relates to the development progression,” she said. “There’s an initial $5,000 piece that a community could use for an initial assessment of the community and the medical facilities availiable to see if it’s reasonable to add a residency program.
“If they pass that initial piece, then the second round request is … about $75,000 to fund the salaries of physicians in the community who develop an initial prospective for a new training site.”
If that looks good, then there is more money available from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and other sources.
Pauwels is helping St. Peter and Summit navigate the complex application and accredidation process of establishing a residency clinic. WWAMI offers grants from the state to promote rural health care and help offset the costs of starting new family medicine residency positions across Washington. The funds are administered by the state Family Medicine Education Advisory Board, which is co-managed by the state’s three medical schools, at the UW, Washington State University and Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences.
“We would all love to see a rural training happen (in East County),” Pauwels said.
“It’s been pretty successful,” Pauwels said of the state program. Some new residency programs include Colville, Port Angeles, Ellensburg and Chelan.
“If there are other commuinites that are interested, they can apply for the initial $5,000 grant,” Pauwels said.
The Montesano City Council recently asked to be released from Hospital District 2, which runs Grays Harbor Community Hospital. Mayor Vini Samuel mentioned during debate that there was a possibility that Summit could place a residency clinic in Montesano. But Montesano would have to switch to Summit’s organization, Hospital District No. 1.