April 22, 2011

Harborview Medical Center honored for HIV/AIDS outreach

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

Twice in three years: Thats how frequently Secretary of Health Mary Selecky has brought Washingtons Excellence in Health Care Award to Harborview Medical Center.

On April 19, Selecky presented the 2010 Warren Featherstone Reid award to Dr. Robert Harrington, Harborviews Madison Clinic medical director, and Eileen Whalen, Harborviews executive director, to honor the hospitals satellite clinics for HIV/AIDS care in Everett and Bremerton. Harborviews Pioneer Square Clinic earned the award in 2008.

The Bremerton satellite clinic has filled a void for care on the peninsula, said Kerry Dobbelaere, clinical services program manager for Kitsap County Public Health. The clinic has drawn patients from Kitsap, Jefferson, Clallam, Mason and Pierce counties since it opened in 2007, she said.

Before then “we had so many clients who were traveling over to Harborview, and thats really an all-day venture,” she said. “Now they come to the clinic, their case manager is there, and they can get primary care at the same place, so it’s kind of one-stop shopping.””

From left, Washington Health Secretary Mary Selecky, Madison Clinic Medical Director Dr. Robert Harrington, Harborview Executive Director Eileen Whalen, and Everett clinic patient Marilyn Mora.

Mary Levin

From left, Washington Health Secretary Mary Selecky, Madison Clinic Medical Director Dr. Robert Harrington, Harborview Executive Director Eileen Whalen, and Everett clinic patient Marilyn Mora.

“The program is fantastic. It’s a huge difference not have to drive down here. I see Dr. Ramers for everything – he is my primary plus my specialist.”

Dr. Christian Ramers is the primary clinician at the Everett site and one of four who staff the Kitsap site. (Dr. Mary Campbell provides back-up at the Everett clinic). Drs. Robert Harrington, Shireesha Dhanireddy and Nina Kim are other physicians, representing UWs departments of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Global Health who initiated and still staff the first satellite clinic in Bremerton.

“In general the HIV epidemic is becoming de-urbanized, and more rural areas are underserved by both primary care and HIV providers,” said Harrington, a driving force behind the programs creation.

“The enrollment for both clinics has gone up in the past two years. The word is out, thanks to partners like the Evergreen AIDS Foundation in Snohomish. We see a lot of patients who previously have not been in care at all. This is their entry point into taking care for themselves, so it makes a huge impact.”

Selecky thanked Harborview for its motivation to take a quality program beyond King County.

“Recognizing that government doesn’t have as much money, that doesn’t stop a person from coming in the (hospital) door, and doesn’t stop all of us from having passion to connect with that person, to get them to the right service at the right time,” said Selecky.

She went on to compliment Harborview for leading the way in developing this unique service through multiple partnerships.

The HIV/AIDS program is “absolutely part of our mission,” Whalen said in conveying her gratitude to staff assembled at the award ceremony. “We are the safety net. Thank you, all, for your commitment and passion and making a difference in our patients lives each and every day.”

Media contact: Susan Gregg, 206.616.6730.