A community mobilizes to get more children immunized

Smiling school nurse pointing to sign

Peggy Sturm, school nurse at Maywood Hills Elementary

When Maywood Hills Elementary School in Bothell first joined the Group Health Foundation funded effort to raise immunization rates, only two-thirds of students were getting vaccinated.

The school nurse and parent advocates set out to change that, talking to people at community events, ball games, and in casual conversations about the role every family can play in preventing the spread of potentially deadly diseases.

“For me, it’s not just about keeping my kids healthy and safe. It’s about my civic responsibility of keeping our community safe,” says parent advocate Kendi Locknane.

Maywood Hills’ immunization rate has since jumped to 95 percent. The Washington State Public Health Association named the school a 2013 Health Champion.

Watch a video about the turnaround at Maywood Hills.

Giving patients and families cherished time at life’s end

Hospice HandsWhen his doctors first recommended hospice care, William McElroy wasn’t quite ready for it. Not at age 59.

“It’s a real struggle to face your mortality,” recalls William’s sister, Ginger Shorey.

But soon enough, William welcomed his Group Health hospice care team with the same strength and dignity he drew on to fight heart and kidney disease, diabetes and cancer. It helped that he already knew his social worker, nurse, and spiritual counselor. They were caring for his ailing mother.

“Jan, Carol and Jenny worked together so intuitively, absolutely seamlessly,” Ginger says.

William also worked with a Group Health volunteer to create an ethical will, which included an oral history of his family and a gorgeous work of calligraphy—the Chinese character for family or home—which the volunteer gave William’s family after he passed away.  Read more…

Honor your doctor with an investment in health

Doctor Patient iconIn proclaiming March 30 as an annual day of recognition for doctors—continuing a tradition that began in 1933—President George Bush honored “those who carry on the quiet work of healing each day in communities throughout the United States.”

This year, we encourage Group Health patients to honor their physicians on National Doctors’ Day with the gift of health—a donation to Group Health Foundation. Click on Donate Now, then follow the steps to make a tribute gift to recognize your doctor.

Sparing the environment, reducing the risk of overdoses

Woman placing unwanted prescription in binThanks to a grant from Group Health Foundation, a medication take-back program that Group Health pioneered several years ago remains one of the longest-running continuous programs like it in the United States.

Since 2006, Group Health has collected and safely disposed of more than 100,000 pounds of unused or expired prescription medications, keeping potentially harmful pollutants out of the environment and reducing the risk of poisoning, accidental overdoses or medication errors.

Anyone, not just Group Health members, can discard unwanted and expired medications in a specially designed disposal unit stationed near pharmacies at every Group Health Medical Center in Washington state.

Group Health is working with government and pharmaceutical industry leaders on ways to make this and other medication take-back programs available to more people, says Shirley Reitz, Director of Pharmacy Clinical Services at Group Health.

Learn more about the safe disposal of medication at Group Health. 

One donor, many gifts of health

Portrait of Phyllis Edwards and Daniel Berschauer.

Phyllis Edwards and her husband Daniel Berschauer.

Phyllis Edwards’ doctors at Group Health caught her breast cancer early. During her treatment, she felt reassured at every turn that she was getting the best care possible.

So the retired Group Health social worker jumped at the chance to lead a fundraising campaign for a digital imaging center that’s giving more people in Olympia access to mammograms in a warm and welcoming environment.

During the campaign she said, “I didn’t realize how easy it would be to leave a legacy to the Foundation by simply amending the beneficiary designation on my retirement account. I am still able to remember my family and Group Health.”

Phyllis has served on a Group Health Foundation Stewardship Committee, and gives to our annual fund.

Photo by Stephen Brashear