Programs and Services
- State Office of Rural Health
All 50 states offer a State Office of Rural Health (SORH) to improve access to quality healthcare for rural residents. The WA SORH offers technical assistance, training, brings federal resources into the state and disperses them.
The office is funded through an annual grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Through outreach and community partnerships, the SORH works to disseminate federal, state, and local resources, coordinate statewide rural health activities and provide direct assistance to communities.
Services and Activities
The Washington State Office of Rural Health can support your community in many ways. We can:
- Connect you with federal and state grants and resources.
- Connect you with other rural communities (in state and national).
- Facilitate and support community collaboration and healthcare planning.
For more information contact
State Office of Rural Health director
- Volunteer and Retired Providers Program
The Washington State legislature created the Volunteer and Retired Providers (VRP) Program in 1992 (RCW 43.70.460 and RCW 43.70.470) to expand healthcare access for underserved patients in Washington.
The VRP Program encourages healthcare volunteerism by paying malpractice insurance premiums for those providing non-invasive care to underserved patients. Volunteers who use their Washington State professional license only for volunteer work are also eligible for license renewal. The Washington State Department of Health funds this program.
Non-Invasive Care Defined
Non-invasive care includes the administration of injections, suturing of minor lacerations, and the incision of boils and superficial abscesses. Obstetric care and procedures coded as surgery are not covered under non-invasive medical care.
Non-invasive dental care includes diagnosis, oral hygiene, restoration and extraction. Orthodontia and surgical treatments are not covered by our malpractice VRP malpractice insurance.
All healthcare providers with a Washington State active or retired active license or providers licensed in another U.S. jurisdiction who wish to volunteer at an approved site, are eligible with no minimum volunteer time commitment
Anyone interested in volunteering must first contact an approved site or event sponsoring organization to volunteer. Once approved by the site or event sponsor, please contact the Washington Healthcare Access Alliance (WHAA).
How to Apply as a Site
Clinics interested in hosting VRP program volunteers must provide healthcare services for low-income patients regardless of ability to pay, and must be approved by filling out a site application.
How to Open a Free Clinic
The Department of Health partners with the Washington Healthcare Access Alliance (WHAA) to support the free clinics across the state. If your community is interested in developing a clinic to meet your area's needs, please contact WHAA for assistance.
Other Volunteer Opportunities
If you are a healthcare professional interested in volunteer opportunities, contact WHAA for assistance.
Please contact Washington Healthcare Access Alliance for more information.
Washington Healthcare Access Alliance, VRP Program
P.O. Box 14506
Seattle, WA 98114
Phone number: 267-713-9422
Fax number: 206-260-8859
- Washington Rural Palliative Care Initiative
- The Palliative Care Roadmap (PDF) was developed by a diverse team of palliative care experts, funded by the Washington Legislature through the efforts of the WA Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, and patterned after the Dementia Care Roadmap (PDF) in a process facilitated by the Washington State Department of Health. Available as an online publication, the Palliative Care Roadmap may also be ordered as a published booklet by logging in or creating a MyPrintDesk account and searching for the title.
- The Washington Rural Palliative Care Initiative helps Washington rural communities develop skills and services to serve people with serious illnesses and their loved ones, in the community at any stage of illness.
- Six rural communities in Washington are in the first group or cohort of the initiative. Port Townsend, Ephrata, Newport, Pullman, Dayton and Okanogan County are participating.
- The second cohort includes seven additional communities for a total of 13: Elma, Port Angles, Anacortes, San Juan Islands, Stevens County, Goldendale and Davenport.
- The following communities are staying informed, building knowledge and will resume palliative care development in the future; Colfax, Pomeroy, Clarkston and Ellensburg.
- The State Offices of Health in North Dakota also join the Washington State Office of Rural Health and Wisconsin in a multi-state Rural Palliative Care Project sponsored by Stratis Health and funded through philanthropic support.
- Rural Health has released a report on rural home health and hospice entitled "There's No Place Like Home: Rural Home Health and Hospice in Washington State; A Discussion of Challenges and Solutions (PDF).
- Offering Palliative Care in Rural Communities is a five and half-minute video that offers a clear introduction to the power of care for serious illness.
- New! Palliative Care Podcast—learn about rural palliative care as DOH’s Executive Director of Rural Health, Pat Justis and Stratis Health’s Karla Weng have a conversation in a podcast produced by the Rural Health Information Hub.
- The Bree Collaborative was established by the Washington Legislature in 2011 to bring public health care purchasers for Washington state, private health care purchasers (employers and union trusts), health plans, physicians and other health care providers, hospitals, and quality improvement organizations together to identify specific ways to improve health care quality, outcomes, and affordability in Washington State. The Bree takes on different topics and develops clinical recommendations. Here is its report focusing on palliative care (PDF).
What is palliative care?Palliative care is specialized care for people living with serious illness. Care is focused on relief from the symptoms and stress of the illness and treatment—whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve and sustain quality of life for the patient, loved ones and other care companions. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with active treatment. Palliative care facilitates patient autonomy, access to information, and choice. The palliative care team helps patients and families understand the nature of their illness, and make timely, informed decisions about care.
Adapted from the Center for the Advancement of Palliative Care (CAPC) and the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care (NCP)
Hospice care is a well-known and comprehensive delivery model of palliative care, focused on terminally ill patients near the end of life.
Washington Rural Palliative Care Initiative is designed to help rural communities develop the skills and services to assist people before the end of life and may begin at the time of diagnosis of a serious illness. More than 24 different public and private organizations are helping to shape this important work.
Thanks to Stratis Health and Amerigroup for funding assistance.
Contact the Washington Rural Palliative Care Initiative leader for more information | Subscribe to our topic to receive Rural Health updates.
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