Mission Leadership Awards 

Each year, a number of remarkable nominations are submitted for the Providence Health & Services Mission Leadership Award. This award recognizes programs and services across our entire organization demonstrating extraordinary community-focused service. Please join Providence in recognizing and congratulating all the inspired teams of winners and nominees working to improve the health of our communities.

Love on a Leash

Therapy Animal Programs Provide Extraordinary Care

Known as Man’s Best Friend, dogs are often at the heart of American families, providing comfort, connection and companionship. At Providence Alaska Medical Center and Providence St. Peter Hospital, trained therapy animals have become so much more – an integral part of the caregiver team.

Therapy animals are a calming presence in acute care corridors, a welcomed source of pain relief for very sick patients, an understanding companion in grief and a connection of love to those in emotional pain.

For their community focused service, these two therapy animal programs have earned the 2015 Mission Leadership Award.

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2015 Mission Leadership Award Winners

Pet Assisted Wellness Services (PAWS)

Providence Alaska Medical Center, Anchorage, AK

The Pet Assisted Wellness Services (PAWS) program in Anchorage Alaska shares the unique benefits of the human‐animal bond with patients, families and caregivers. PAWS’ 27 “two and four-legged” volunteer teams provided over 2,300 hours of service and over 16,000 compassionate canine connections last year. PAWS therapy animal program volunteers bring innovative animal assisted wellness programs to Alaska’s most vulnerable; those seeking an increased sense of well‐being emotionally, physically and psychologically. PAWS tenderly ministers to those in need of respite during stress or crisis, those who have experienced life changing medical events or who have experienced profound loss. They also provide comfort to those who are embracing new life or are facing the end of their lives.

Whether providing loving care to pediatric patients, behavioral health patients or those recovering from surgery, PAWS’ therapy animal program volunteers are committed to creating compassionate canine connections. Therapy dog visits have proven to lower stress, blood pressure and anxiety—during a simple social visit, dogs provide a calming effect and a sense of well-being. In addition to caring for patients and their families, therapy dogs and their handlers also offer caregivers necessary opportunities for respite and healing.

The PAWS program has been an invaluable asset in working with pediatric patients in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. Expert clinicians engage dog/handler teams in goal-directed therapy sessions for their patients. This allows therapy dogs to move beyond a role of providing enjoyment, to one in which the team works in conjunction with the occupational or physical therapist as an active participant in a patient’s therapy session. By taking the time to coordinate with the therapist, including understanding patient history and therapeutic goals, PAWS teams become an integral part of the treatment session, helping pediatric patients reach their therapy goals.

Providence Animal-Assisted Activities & Therapy

Providence St. Peter Hospital, Olympia, WA

Founded in 1989, the Providence Animal-Assisted Activities & Therapy program at Providence St. Peter Hospital is one of the oldest pet therapy programs in the nation, providing over 120,000 visits last year. Its 29 four-footed volunteers – mostly dogs and one cat, Studdly – charm, delight and console between 7,000 and 9,000 patients, visitors and caregivers every year.

The program’s specially trained and screened therapy animals provide nonjudgmental affection and comfort to patients and their families with stressful health concerns. The presence of therapy animals has reduced stress level for patients and enhanced the quality of life by de-institutionalizing the hospital environment.

Therapy animal teams are best known for social visits, animal assisted activities and education. These teams are also asked to assist professionals in therapies designed to comfort patient and families who have lost a beloved family member and offer compassionate program services to those facing life‐changing events.

Dogs and cats also work with speech, physical and occupational therapists on the inpatient medical rehabilitation unit to motivate patients to work harder and help them reach their therapeutic goals. Animal-assisted therapy is especially effective in the pediatric therapy gym, where children are inspired to follow the actions of a pet guided by a therapeutic clinician. Something as simple as throwing a ball for a dog to retrieve, a child is likely to follow the therapist’s lead, bringing a holistic approach to care.

Pets show unconditional love to those who feel isolated and alone. There’s incredible energy in the human-animal bond, and animal-assisted activities and therapy helps people reach wholeness and healing.


2015 Mission Leadership Award Honorable Mention

Community Health Insurance Program

Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Centers – Torrance and San Pedro, CA

Providence Little Company of Mary’s (PLMC) Community Health Insurance Program (CHIP) utilizes innovative and effective strategies to increase the number of children and adults enrolled in California’s Health Insurance Marketplace and Medicaid programs. Community Health Workers/Promotoras were hired from the communities served by the medical centers and trained as Certified Enrollment Counselors. They were placed in over 50 community locations to provide bilingual outreach, education and health insurance enrollment assistance to eligible, uninsured children and adults. From January to October 2014, Promotoras assisted 2,398 people, of whom 75 percent successfully enrolled in a health insurance program. In addition, PLCM currently ranks in the top 10 percent of California organizations that enroll eligible consumers into Covered California, proving that its strategies work. This successful model is now being replicated in other Providence ministries.

Welcome Baby: A Community Partnership

Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, Mission Hills, CA

Welcome Baby is a no cost, home visitation program available to families who deliver at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center. Welcome Baby program goals include: promoting overall health and wellness during pregnancy and through the first year of life; educating parents on their child’s physical and emotional development; encouraging breastfeeding; and ensuring children have health coverage and receive consistent health care.

Through one-on-one visits from nurses and parent coaches, Welcome Baby assists new parents in achieving a safe and nurturing home environment. Entirely grant funded, the aim of Welcome Baby is to work with families to enhance the parent-child relationship and maximize the health, safety and security of the baby, while linking families to support services as needed. Welcome Baby provides new and expecting moms a personal Parent Coach to offer information and resources to support their child’s developmental milestones.

Providence Advanced Training in Hospitality (PATH)

Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, Portland Providence Medical Center, Providence Willamette Falls, and Providence Milwaukee Hospital, OR

Providence Advanced Training in Hospitality (PATH) was created by the Providence Regional Executive Chef Team of the Portland Service Area. PATH was inspired by a deep desire to serve and contribute to the lives of at-risk youth. PATH blends advanced culinary arts skills, workplace readiness skills, food safety training and interpersonal skills with an exploration of life purpose. Volunteer Providence culinary professionals combine hands-on culinary training and classroom instruction to help students continue in their education and get jobs. PATH’s inaugural year was launched in partnership with C-TEC Youth Services in October 2013. The C-TEC program provides education, employment and training support for low-income youth with barriers to employment. This partnership’s commitment is paying off--thirteen out of the seventeen PATH graduates are now employed; nine are attending post-secondary schools as of fall 2014.

Providence Northeast Washington Hunger Coalition

Providence Health Care Stevens County, Spokane WA

In 2010, stakeholders throughout Stevens County came together to address the problem of hunger. Their objectives were to stabilize the emergency food system and address the underlying causes of hunger. The Providence Northeast Washington Hunger Coalition created a vision statement “significantly reduce, if not end, poverty-induced hunger in Stevens County so that there may be abundance for all.”

Three years later, the Coalition has a partnership with WSU County Extension to write grants for greater capacity. The Coalition has secured partnerships to provide food refrigeration and transportation resulting in 220,907 lbs. of fresh produce delivered to food banks in Stevens County. The Coalition designed the Plant a Row initiative asking gardeners to plant an extra row of produce for the local food banks. In a partnership with 2nd Harvest/NW Harvest, the Coalition expanded food accessibility to the poor, through food delivery programs with a donation of a refrigerated truck and a partnership with VFWs and the American Legion.

Northwest Autism Center’s Day Treatment Clinic

Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Spokane WA

The Northwest Autism Center is recognized as a Center of Excellence ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) Day Treatment program for children with autism. This unique program serves children with autism ages two through five in an outpatient treatment setting. The intensive treatment includes three hours of parent education and training per week, in addition to care coordination, speech and language therapy, and transition services. Clinic sessions are three hours per day, four days per week for 12 weeks, in alignment with Health Care Authority requirements. Each child receives one-on-one intensive services from a therapy assistant. The program is supervised and coordinated by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and provides hands-on supervised training opportunities for those seeking Board Certification in ABA, a field of expertise with an extremely limited provider pool in Washington State.

Behavioral Health Crisis Services in the Emergency Center

Providence St. Peter Hospital, Olympia WA

Many arriving in the emergency department are in need of psychiatric intervention. At Providence St. Peter Hospital’s emergency center, Crisis Services has trained counselors available 24/7 to support patients and families with problems related to psychiatric illness, grief, substance abuse, domestic abuse, homelessness, crime, aging and traumatic injuries. The crisis counselors also provide discharge planning and community resources to best meet the needs of patients and their families. A mental health professional provides face-to-face evaluations to help individuals establish the need for an appropriate level of mental health or substance abuse services. This unique program works within a community collaboration model and has eased the strain on the emergency center by providing on-site assessment, consults and referrals for appropriate placement.

No One Dies Alone

Providence St. Peter Hospital, Olympia WA

After a study in 2008 revealed 40 percent of dying patients were dying alone, there was a strong impetus to develop the No One Dies Alone program at Providence St. Peter Hospital. The program utilizes over 100 volunteers and exemplifies Providence’s Mission as it serves the very vulnerable, the dying patient, with respectful and competent quality care. Caregivers and volunteers provide a reassuring presence of compassionate care to dying patients who would otherwise be alone. The No One Dies Alone program also provides relief care for families of dying patients.

Women’s Wellness Roundup

Providence Centralia Hospital, Centralia, WA

It was clear to Diana Jennings, lead mammographer at Providence Imaging Center in Centralia that many women were not getting cancer screenings because of a lack of primary care resources, high unemployment and a high rate of uninsured. She proposed Providence offer free screening breast exams and convinced the Lewis County Radiology Associates to read the mammogram results at no cost to the patient. Thus, initiating the first Women’s Wellness Fair in 2008, with over 207 women receiving free screening mammograms. Each year this event is a huge success having screened hundreds of women and identifying 45 women with suspicious or cancer findings. Many more have been referred to additional imaging because of an abnormality in the initial screening. This program is saving lives and is part of the Providence Mission to care for the poor and vulnerable through our compassionate service.

Improving Access to Mental Health Services in Walla Walla County

Providence St. Mary Medical Center, Walla Walla WA

In 2012, the Community Ministry Board of Providence St. Mary issued a daunting directive – find a way to improve timely access to mental health services. Now in 2014, the number of hours people with mental health issues were held in the ER awaiting placement had fallen by 55 percent. It started with a community mental health needs assessment. Providence worked with others creating the Community Health Assessment Taskforce Mental Health Planning Committee. Several groups and agencies took part in the planning and provided funding. This was truly a community-wide effort. The ER has seen dramatic changes in access to mental health assessments, much better crisis response times and a reduction in ER boarding for mental health patients. In addition, a more intensive case management approach helps patients live healthier lives and avoid crisis. Services are expanding to include the uninsured and people who have insurance but previously faced long waits to see a provider.

Developing a Milk Bank Depot Program

Providence St. Peter Hospital, Olympia WA

In January 2013, Melissa Petit, RN a lactation consultant, had a vision for PSPH to become a Human Milk Depot for the Portland Oregon Northwest Mother’s Milk Bank. The Milk Bank processes and distributes the milk to fragile infants. The human milk is used to feed at-risk babies in newborn intensive care units whose mothers are unable to supply their own milk. In the first year, multiple clients donated 13,026 ounces of breast milk to the Northwest Mother’s Milk Bank. This equates to approximately 6,000 newborn feedings for premature infants.

North Thurston School District Sports Physical Event

Providence Medical Group, St. Peter Family Medicine, Olympia WA

For years, Providence St. Peter Family Medicine has conducted a mass sports physical event. This year, 187 high school and junior high school students received their annual sports physicals at this annual event. The students pay a $20 donation each for the physical (although no one is turned away for inability to pay). A total of $3,740 was collected and distributed to the specified school sports department within North Thurston School District. Students received immunizations, too. Without this event, several children would be unable to participate in school sports because they couldn’t afford a doctor’s office visit, thus fulfilling the Mission of Providence to care for the poor and vulnerable.

Lower Cost Diabetes Education Using Telehealth

Providence Medical Group, Southwest Washington, Olympia WA

To provide lower-cost diabetes education in rural Oregon and Southwest Washington, primary care clinics use telehealth secure videoconferencing between a patient and a diabetes educator. Bringing diabetes education directly to patients in rural areas improves patient and provider access to diabetes services, reduces health disparities and costs significantly less than an office visit. Because of a lack of access to primary care, many rural diabetes patients were at greater risk for diabetic complications. The telehealth diabetes education has increased access while serving the Mission.

Healthcare Coverage Matters – The Swedish and Providence Medicaid Enrollment Initiative

Swedish Health Services, Seattle WA

In 2014, the Affordable Care Act was expected to bring many changes to the healthcare industry. A group of change agents from both Swedish and Providence came together to ensure all our patients and caregivers would receive timely, accurate information and the guidance needed to navigate the upcoming changes in healthcare. The goal was to be a thought leader for communicating health care changes to the community.

The result was a Multidisciplinary Quality Improvement Team that used a QI methodology to manage the initiative. They created an overarching organizational work plan, sanctioned by executive leaders and deployed throughout the organization to manage, communicate and execute enrollment at our sites. It involved education and training, and developing effective toolkits for patients and caregivers. It also involved leveraging current touch points and communication vehicles to provide resources directly to patients and caregivers. This work plan was based on the Swedish Community Health Needs assessment which identified access to care and access to insurance as two of the ten top community needs. The plan resulted in over 2,200 families enrolled. Another success factor was accounts receivable for uninsured patients was reduced by nearly 50 percent.