2019 Leaders in Health Care, Achievement in Community Outreach: Confluence Health and UW School of Medicine Pathway Programs

The Wenatchee and Seattle organizations are being honored as Leaders in Healthcare

February 27, 2019

Treva Lind and John Levesque


This article appears in print in the March 2019 issue. See more about the winners of the 2019 Leaders in Healthcare Awards here. Click here for a free subscription.

Gold Award
Confluence Health, Wenatchee

More than 115 Americans die every day from opioid overdoses, a national crisis linked to narcotic pain relievers. As central Washingtons major medical provider, Confluence Health has picked a fight against rising opioid-addiction statistics in rural communities and its making a difference. In late 2016, Confluence Health created the Opioid Epidemic Response Team to identify separate needs holistically. Focus groups addressed approaches for acute pain, chronic pain and drug diversion.

By 2017, a drug diversion process was in place. It created Disruptive Patient Pathway algorithms dealing with acute and chronic pain opioid users, striving to reduce the amount of medication they take daily. As part of the program, patients and staff receive opioid education.

Additionally, Confluence Health sought to reduce the prescribing of unnecessary medication in its communities. With support from the Confluence Health Foundation, it installed eight prescription-medication take-back boxes in locations stretching from Wenatchee and the Columbia Basin to locales near the Canadian border, and received nearly 1,600 pounds of unneeded medications in rural areas previously lacking disposal options.

If you flush medications down the toilet or dispose of them in the garbage, the risk is that it gets back into the water supply, says Glenn Adams, SVP of ancillary services at Confluence Health. These disposal systems take the medications and have them incinerated instead.

Confluence intends to expand the effort in the next five years and add 27 more medication disposal boxes.

Silver Award
UW School of Medicine Pathway Programs, Seattle

The University of Washington School of Medicine educates students in a five-state region known as WWAMI (for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). One mission encourages graduates to practice in rural and medically underserved urban areas. It has created a certificate program, or pathway, in five categories: Indian Health, Global Health, Hispanic Health, LGBTQ Health and Underserved Populations. Students gain mentors and learn how historical, environmental, cultural and political influences affect a populations health services and access to care.