Next year Harborview Medical Center will establish its first family medicine service for the care of patients and a residency program to train new family physicians.
“The opening of these programs,” said Dr. James LoGerfo, medical director of Harborview, “will be a fulfillment of a long hope for the presence of family medicine on-site at Harborview.” A family medical center will be created as part of an outpatient facility under construction adjacent to the main Harborview building.
Dr. Robert Crittenden, assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine, has been named chief of the Family Medicine Service.
“By offering family medicine,” Crittenden said, “Harborview is increasing access to primary care for the populations it serves.” Harborview has a tradition of helping people who otherwise would have difficulty in receiving appropriate medical care, because of economic, social, language and other barriers.
Harborview is an ideal place, according to Crittenden, for family medicine residents, students and faculty to learn about problems facing urban patients and how to care for them. The UW medical school, which ranks top in the nation in teaching rural health care, plans to develop family physician training of similar caliber at Harborview. The goal is to encourage more family physicians to practice in central-city neighborhoods, where many people are as isolated from adequate health care as those living miles from the nearest doctor.
“We are looking forward to the great opportunity to reach out to the surrounding community and collaborate with nearby hospitals and clinics in addressing neighborhood health needs,” he added. Crittenden, who did his residency at Providence Medical Center, is the former medical director of the Rainier Family Medical Group in Rainier Valley. He helped form a public health/medical provider partnership in south King County for maternity care of pregnant women lacking medical coverage. He also worked on the Basic Health Plan, the state-subsidized health insurance for people with low incomes.
In the governor’s office, he was key staff for Healthy Options, an expansion of Medicaid for mothers and their young children. At the UW, he will continue as director of the Office of Educational Policy for the medical school. This office analyzes state and federal actions related to the training of new health professionals. Crittenden, who was named Academic All-American in football at the University of California, studied economics at Oxford University before attending medical school.
Crittenden will be associate director of the new Harborview family practice residency, a satellite of the University of Washington Medical Center Family Practice Residency. The first residents will start next July.
“Harborview is dedicated to its patients and has an altruistic spirit. Our family practice residents want to be part of that,” said Dr. David Losh, associate professor of family medicine and the residency director. “It’s a dynamic institution filling a vital role for people in need, and offers some of the best training in emergency, surgical, sub-specialty and primary care in the area.”
Harborview is exploring the possibility of multi-specialty collaboration in primary-care residency training, LoGerfo said. Innovative teaching programs could bring together family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology and other specialties to prepare a new generation of primary-care physicians.
A teaching hospital for the UW School of Medicine for almost 50 years, Harborview was the first hospital to affiliate with the medical school and initially housed the medical school’s first five clinical departments. It is part of the UW Academic Medical Center, which also includes the medical school, UW Physicians, and University of Washington Medical Center.
“I am excited about the new Family Medicine Service and residency satellite at Harborview,” said Dr. Ronald Schneeweiss, professor and chair of the UW Department of Family Medicine. “The teaching, research and service program at Harborview fits well with that of the UW Department of Family Medicine. We are overdue in including family medicine at Harborview and in concretely expressing our commitment to the medically underserved as much at the UW Academic Medical Center as we have done throughout the WAMI (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) region.”