2014 Leaders in Health Care Awards: Achievement in Community Outreach (Organizations/Programs)



Swedish Community Benefits Program
Swedish Medical Center

Seattle is home to some of the top leaders in global health, but there are ample health care problems to be solved in our own backyard. Residents of South King County, for example, experience rates of diabetes, asthma, low birth weight and shortened life span, challenges similar to some developing countries.

Swedish Medical Center, whose Community Benefits Program already provides uncompensated care and clinic services, has taken new initiative in the area: The Global to Local program partners with area global health experts to apply in local underserved communities strategies that have proven effective elsewhere.

Working with the cities of Tukwila and SeaTac, Swedish learned the health care concerns of low-income residents by asking them in “conversation cafes.” In response, classes in diet and health account for the cultural habits and needs of the diverse area. Language barriers inhibit access to medical and nonmedical information, so the program provides translation services as well. 

The program is still young, cultivating local partners and training community leaders. But it has already gained strong acceptance, with help provided to more than 2,000 at-risk participants in its first 18 months.


Silver Awards

WWAMI Program
UW Medicine

For more than 40 years, the University of Washington has led an effort to encourage physicians to serve in the rural areas of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WWAMI). Its newer Targeted Rural/Underserved Track (TRUST) allows students to train within a chosen community such as a small town, Native American lands or underserved urban neighborhoods, from medical school through residency. With roots established, a health care professional is more likely to remain and help alleviate the doctor shortage.

Silence Whooping Cough
Group Health Foundation

Whooping cough, once thought largely eradicated, made a surprising comeback in 2012, with nearly 5,000 reported cases in Washington state. In response, Group Health Foundation expanded its Silence Whooping Cough campaign to encourage vaccination against the highly preventable disease. Partnering with county governments, schools and parenting groups to educate and distribute free vaccines, Group Health Foundation has helped raise awarness in the state where nearly a third of children miss one or more recommended vaccinations.


How Vacuum Systems Will Change the Landscape for Health Care Facilities

How Vacuum Systems Will Change the Landscape for Health Care Facilities


Sponsored by MacDonald-Miller

The Polyclinic Northgate wanted to do something that had never been done before — create a medical clinic that could be rearranged in a weekend, located in virtually any building, and most importantly, a place that would not cost a lot to change in the future. How could there be a flexible system with the constraints that sewer lines currently impose on existing facilities? The Polyclinic turned to its mechanical contractor, MacDonald-Miller, to come up with a solution.

We interviewed Steve Amann, project executive, to find out how vacuum plumbing systems will revolutionize the healthcare industry.  

What is the vacuum system solution?

Vacuum plumbing is a modular drainage system, which allows for immediate and future room reconfigurations. Rather than the standard protocol of requiring slab penetrations to accommodate gravity drainage, vacuum piping serving waste fixtures is installed in overhead spaces, delivering wastewater to a central vacuum center that exits the building at a single, convenient location. 

How will this flexible system change the healthcare industry?

The vacuum system is the first ever application of its kind in a medical clinic utilizing demountable, movable interior walls. Now medical clinic spaces can be remodeled at a fraction of the time and cost formerly required given standard plumbing and fixed walls. This efficiency provides new opportunities for business while maximizing revenue. Now, health care teams can drive project decisions, rather than decisions being made by the constraints of an existing space layout, or lack of plumbing infrastructure.

How will it change the landscape for healthcare facilities?

Medical clinics can now be located in nontraditional locations, such as standard office buildings with lower lease rates than designated-use medical office buildings.

What is the environment and financial impact?

The environmental impact of vacuum toilets is substantially less compared to standard low-flush toilets. With only half a gallon per flush, tenants realize big savings on their water and sewer costs. The system also prevents waste pipe leaks, which occur in gravity-driven systems and contribute to a deterioration of a building’s health over time.

With the ever-changing nature of the health care industry and mounting price pressure, the combination of demountable walls and vacuum plumbing creates flexibility and provides long-term economic benefits — two elements which are in high demand within this emerging industry. 

MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions is a full-service, design-build, mechanical contractor in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more about MacDonald-Miller’s recent projects.